Sunday, June 29, 2014

GENEVIEVE, The Story of a Young, Purple Gorilla who Overcomes Loss and Achieves Self-Awareness (by Karen)

A Note from Karen: I presented this bit of short fiction at the 2014 Artist, interrupted performance at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City. I hope you find these photos of my reading as humorous as I do.

She lay asleep in a transparent sphere. Was it the hamster's wheel? Or her cage? Machine guns. Phft! Pft! Phft-ft-ft-ft-ft-ft-ft! Ksh!Ksh!Ksh! Shattered. I finally understand now what it was, or what it suddenly wasn't: a glass egg.

And where were you, Parent/Guardian, when it happened?

Genevieve stepped out, and, in a moment, grew so tall, I nearly called her Alice. She brushed off the residual glass, dust now, and entered her new world.

We are descending into Las Vegas!”

That's not a metaphor!”

Gen paid no attention to the asinine dialogue of the gun-wielding barbarians who had both attacked and freed her. Though shrinking now, they continued to fire, pricking her heel with dainty lead rounds. (This eventually lead to a small rash, but she took no notice of it.) Her life moved at a much slower rate now than did theirs. She did not see them knit huts and toboggans out of their own hair to protect themselves from the eternal winter caused by her shadow.

Neither did she observe their great, sliding migration from the grass between her feet to a booming new Casino village, which, by the time you finish reading this sentence, will have developed into the neonic, metropolis founded in the large geographical indentation formerly known as Gen's first footprint.

Gen's new world was warm. She lifted her face to the sun. She took her second step, and her third and so on.

The space was vast. I can't say how vast, for Gen had no instruments of measure. Neither did she care to question space. For all she knew, the potential to travel forward, one foot after the next, was infinite. Having very little interest in what lay to her right or left, her awareness was singular in dimension, as was her transportation. Gen trod faithfully toward one point of light without evaluation, without comparison, without distraction.

The Sun conveyed itself mechanically along its curved track. It cared nothing for Gen's steady conviction. Meanwhile, her mind contained a single repeated wave of thought. It was not a word, for, for Gen, the only known member of a new species, thought was neither limited nor liberated by word. However, for the sake of story-telling, I will paraphrase: “come.” And the chant was something like: I come, I come, I come.

But she couldn't keep up. The Sun was too fast. Gen's sudden cognizance of her unrequited love comprised her second thought: “go.” Now her chant was a plea, Not-go, Not-go, Not-go! And her world changed.

I would call it darkness, but Gen knew nothing of darkness. As I said before, she knew only Come and Go. But she comprehended now that Go resulted in a new something, a thought I shall call, End.

And how long stood she paused in this End?

Gen had no means for the measurement of time. Frankly, she had not had the time for it. You humans have had the advantage of thousands of years to develop time as you know it in the Twenty-First Century. At first, time was represented by only two recurring periods: light and darkness. Then mankind divided time into days and years—simple measurements defined by earth's relationship to the sun. When the rate of food production be came constant and dependable, each day was subdivided into breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Hours were later invented to make people to feel guilty for showing up late to the cathedral. Then someone came up with minutes in time to please all those people at factories who needed more holes punched in their lives. Seconds were for olympians, and nanoseconds for commanders of the U.S.S. Enterprise.

Coincidentally, Gen's next learning step was to comprehend time. She did so in thoughts I shall term, Then and Now. “Then: Sun, Come, Warm. Now: Not-Sun, Not-Come, Not-Warm.”

At this point, dancer, Angela Green, performed a structured
improvisation as a brief accompaniment to my work.

Feeling warm Then had been an abstract, spiritual experience. But this new sensation, Not-Warm, was strictly physical—it caused her to notice, for the very first time, that she had her own tangible form. Her appendages became increasingly not-warm, beginning with the digits. Then her center felt it. She studied movement next: reach, flex, twist, bend, swing, wiggle. She repeated her experiments with acceleration. Movement and touch meant understanding the ground beneath her hairy, purple feet. It was diverse: sometimes wet, sometimes hard, sometimes soft and tickley. Thus, she discovered Texture, Friction, and finally, Sweat.

Sweat inspired in Gen a new emotion that I have struggled to distill. It was something like Work, and something like Hope. She moved faster and faster—how much warmth could she produce on her own? She was determined to know. We might call her newest thought, Agility. She pushed that thought into the sky and pulled it down again, stretching it into an arc, a spiral, a diamond, and  a sequence of asymptotic fractals of Hausdorff dimension log 3 over log 2.

That's when Gen collapsed. She was down on four limbs. Another thought came to her, she named it after its sound, [inhale-exhale, inhale-exhale]. It was her first word. She used it again to ask herself something like, “How long had [inhale-exhale, inhale-exhale] been going on?” Was it only part of Now or had she done it even Then? She couldn't recall, and so she laughed at the resulting thought: her own Ignorance. Her laughter echoed so she laughed again and again. I can't say how long and loud she laughed. But think, if you were truly alone, truly unhindered by social approbation and sanction, to what depth and breadth would you laugh at the world's first joke?

Gen's joviality was finally interrupted by the return of the sun. First, she sensed a change in the atmosphere. What was it? She brought a hairy, purple hand to her face—that's when she discovered her eyes. She had never used them as yet. She pushed them open one at a time. Ah—Sight! Look, there it was. It was smaller than she expected, and her attempt to observe it directly was unpleasant. She smiled and forgot the sun, becoming immediately occupied with introducing herself to all the other purple gorillas standing evenly-spaced throughout that public park who had just opened their eyes for the very first time.

Traveler by Karen

Note from the author: This is an absurdist short fiction work I wrote after an odd dream I had while Justin was briefly unemployed in 2013.

It happened to be a bright, warm sort of day, but she would have carried on, with the Sun, or without him, engrossed in her own sequence of proximate, tangible experiences. Truth be told, she had not yet discovered the Heavens. They were presently too far out of her reach for examination. Thermal variance she felt only at the sub-conscious level. Or so I hypothesize. Even an omniscient narrator, like myself, is limited to observations within reach. Of course, I can read the girl's thoughts, and feelings, but if her [something] is pre-conscious—well, then, there's nothing for me to read, is there? She had, as yet, never complained (even to herself) of being too cold or too hot.

During her first few days of adventure, she had thought Rain problematic, because whenever she turned her face upward to taste him, he tapped her on the eyes, a great nuisance. Her discontentment was overcome, however, when she realized that in keeping her head down, and mouth agape, she could drink him without trouble if she slurped.

On this pleasant day, our young novice was engrossed in sidewalk concretery. The talent of extending only her forefinger was new to her, and she practiced manipulating a Pebble with her pointed digit in newly-conceived pathways. It was a trajectory not easily diagrammed on a dance worksheet, or in a secondary geometry course. But it was not without pattern; it was fractal in its thorny symmetries like the growth of veins within an organism. All this finger work was accomplished in a kneeling position. Her eyes were led, then, to a yellow fire hydrant to her left. She crawled toward the hydrant on calloused hands and knees, then stopped, suddenly, switched around, and returned to the Pebble, grasping him in her palm, and depositing him directing into her mouth. She sat up, staring ahead of her at nothing in particular, and marked the flavor, texture, and size of her subject using an analytical code not yet cracked by science.

Satisfied, she made her way to the hydrant again. She crawled with laughter and increased velocity, Her hands and knees slapped the ground with each “pad-pad, pad-pad” of her tread. She saw a thin object dangling from the large industrial nut on one side of the hydrant. Ah, recognition! She had seen one before and knew immediately what it was. She climbed the hydrant with her hands until she had pulled herself up to standing. Then, leaning over a little, she yanked the Rubber Band, and


Heh!” she chuckled, and pulled him again.




And then a peal of merriment like resurrection.

The man squinting at her from down the street was not close enough to hear. Neither did he believe that it was really an unaccompanied infant he spied there.

Maybe it's a dog.” He wasn't sure.

He turned the corner, and could no longer see her. He was on his way to work. That is, he was looking for work. “A day’s worth of work, at least,” he told himself, walking with his eyes closed. When he opened them, there were tall buildings, cars, heels clicking on the pavement, but no work. Next, he followed his ears, followed the sound of a jackhammer. The man hated loud noisesbut was willing to grit, grin, teeth and bear it if it meant making a few dollars. The disquiet led him down a ramp and into the lower level of a many-storied parking garage. His eyes adjusted to the obscurity. Why was the garage unlit? 

“Hello?” He called out to the only thing he could clearly see, a circle of empty space before him lighted by a dingy florescent lamp.

The jackhammer surged and subsided.

Who is here?” a female voice rang out, then echoed. “Is somebody? What do you want?” She spoke with an accent he didn’t recognize.

I need to earn some money,” he said, approaching the lighted space. He squinted, turning his head this way and that, trying to determine in which direction he should point his dialogue. He was embarrassed by how loudly his own careful footsteps resonated as if he were stomping. “I’m good with tools . . . can you hire me for a day?”

She stepped into the yellow circle, and lifted her goggles.

That's when a monstrous Chevy sped down the entrance ramp, blaring horn and headlights. It lurched at the yellow circle. The man stumbled backward, arms flailing. He blundered into the woman, who kept her hands on the jackhammer. There was a screeching stop. The woman was face to face with the grill. The engine sighed, and the woman flared her nostrils in answer. The man now cowered a few feet behind her. The yellow circle was imperceptible now that two long cones of white light shone from the truck's face to the back wall, illuminating the swirling dust. The man could see now that the woman had waist-long, frizzy hair, and that the garage was much larger than he had imagined before.

The doors opened. A husband and wife stepped out. They walked right past the woman still facing the engine. She smelled them: hairspray, shoe polish, and dog.

A truck bed's worth of dogs were racing and cavorting around the perimeter of the garage. The unemployed man covered his ears and folded his body into a crouching squat, knees to forehead, a zealous attempt to keep out the clamoring, and clicking, and yapping, and jingling, but it all bounced off the cement walls, and echoed inside his head.

The couple walked past the crouching man. “Oh, look, honey,” said the wife to her husband, “the parking spaces are angled just the way you like—45 degrees. It's a lovely garage.”

“Yes, this lot reminds me of the one we had in Colorado Springs,” he replied. He smiled, took her hand, and together they began to dance, admiring their shadows on the back wall.

“Is not for sale!” the woman no longer facing the engine shouted. The husband and wife swiveled around to have a good look at her. The dogs' excitement waned, and the crouching man quietly crawled away from his spot at the center of the stare-down triangle.

“You don't know why we're here, do you?” The husband used a threatening tone. “No. Not anymore than we know what you're doing here with that jackhammer. You can't add a drain by jacking a hole into a garage with a cement floor that isn't tilted to run the water to the center.” Then he laughed. 

“Don't tell me, you're trying to demolish the whole structure, but you couldn't afford a caterpillar, so your plan is to crush the entire thing, one jacking inch at a time?”

“But she's doing the job inside-out.” The wife chimed in, now. “She's going to tear out the bottom and let the whole thing come crashing down on her head!”

“Or maybe she's on her way to the center of the earth.” The husband concluded. “Well, in that case, Madame, don't let us stand in your way!” The woman clutched her instrument tightly as they stepped toward her, and finally exhaled when she realized they were simply returning to the truck. The husband clapped his hands to call the dogs back into the truck bed. The wife took a small suitcase out from behind her seat. She tossed it onto the concrete to the right of the truck. It snapped open on impact. They backed out of the lot, and the man on the floor crawled over to inspect the open case, taking advantage of the bright headlights until they vanished. Therein he found a collection of complimentary soaps and shampoos from various hotels. He turned to speak to the woman with the long hair, but she was back to her hammering, and he was disinclined to bother her again about a job.

The couple in the truck, meanwhile, sped away. It's possible they passed a naked babe playfully inspecting leaves in the gutter. Whether or not they witnessed her efforts I can't say. If they saw her, they certainly weren't conscious of it.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Pledge by Karen

At the end of this post is a poem I wrote a few weeks ago--it's also a song to a jazzy big band melody I haven't put down on paper yet. It's about my love/hate relationship with the Pledge of Allegiance. As a child and youth, I loved standing to say the pledge, especially with large groups of people. I love the idea of people standing together, speaking as one about a cause they believe in. The pledge both directly verbalizes and indirectly represents some ideas that I, personally, believe in: loyalty, love of country, gratitude for God, community, democracy, liberty and justice.

But the pledge also tends to represent some ideas that I don't believe in. I don't believe that the country is indivisible--I mean, why shouldn't a state or two break off if they want to, what's the big deal? I don't believe that the U.S. is God's favorite country. I don't believe that belief in God is a prerequisite to patriotism. I don't believe that the pledge is worded in a manner inclusive enough to sufficiently unite the modern American population.

And I don't really believe that elementary school students should be expected to stand and repeat it all together. This tradition was started in the 1940s, when war permeated Americans' minds; when militant habits seeped into our language, our hairstyles, and our classrooms. In the 1950s, under the reign of McCarthyism, the pledge was a reminder that any person accused of criticizing the government could be fatally blacklisted.

At any rate, my general reaction to the pledge is not dramatic. I'm just tired of taking the whole thing so seriously. The pledge is not a test that reveals which individuals in a room love democracy--and it certainly isn't a real oath (Thank heavens, we are not coerced into making oaths of obeisance to our government!) It's also not the best way to teach the values it attempts to teach. I mean, let's get real. Teaching kids to express their personal feelings about their country is more meaningful than asking them to memorize and daily repeat something that someone else came up with.

On the other hand I don't think the Pledge should be banned, either. It's a quaint tradition that many regard with fondness. Say the pledge if you feel like it, but don't expect everyone to chime in. Or, reject the pledge if you want, but don't expect the government to formally amend or renounce it. Eventually, I believe it will fizzle out on it's own.

So, here it is, below, my poem. Again, it's mostly about my feeling that the ideas in the pledge are important, but that the pledge, itself, shouldn't be taken too seriously.

The Pledge

The pledge--some patrage allegiance,
a sledge that can Christmas
the wedge that's betwixt us?

The blood of our founding,
foregrounding resoundings:
Rockefeller and Old Yeller.
Blitzkrieg lips, read this:

Applaud, appalled. Uphold the old glory phrase.

I told you, gist
raise a fist, Texas twister.
Emancipate a race, suffragistic sister.

Encrypted snacks in Liberty's lap,
Justice for Albequerque and even Mr. Turkey Lurkey,
Madame Allegiance, go free lance!

Applaud, appalled. Uphold, the old glory frays. 

Treasonable supricion,
seasonable remission in the sale of
apple pie fillin' cans--what's the brand?
And to the corn for which it stands!

In God we fussed a crust,
in gold we thrust a must,
in time we trust a dusty gust,
or bust,
it's just--

Applaud, appalled. Uphold the old glory phrase.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

I tend to write my poetry at concerts. by Karen

Last night I attended Justin's Orchestra at Temple Square Concert. They played Mozart, Beethoven and Dvorak. I was inspired by the evening's printed program, and wrote this poem:


Successfully spans, and multi-faceted,
one of those.
He made his and holds the post.

A frequent guest,
has collaborated with by some of the most
of his generation.
He was invited by,
regularly appears with,
was honored as,
and returned for.

Received glowing with great success;
have met with enthusiastic reception
by the international press.

Which marks the first--the long awaited,
generously provided.
Co-founded the, around the world,
using the latest.

if this poetry style is unfamiliar to you, it's the poetry-as-a-collage-of-phrases kind, highly influenced by the work of e.e. cummings.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Math Essays by Justin

These are two papers I wrote for an undergraduate class on math history. The first discusses the effective significance of some of Zeno's paradoxes on the mathematical thought of civilization and the second reviews one of the most profound results in number theory, insomuch that it derives from a corollary of a weak form of the Taniyama-Shimura conjecture.