On the second paradox of Zeno

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The people Marcel loves are people in motion. Like Albertine – always speeding off somewhere on a bike, on a train, in a car, on a horse or flown out of the window; like Marcel’s mother, perpetually on her way up the stairs to kiss him good night; like his grand mother, striding up and down the garden every evening for her constitutional even when it’s pouring rain; or like his friend Robert de Saint-Loup, whom we first glimpse scampering along the top of the banquette in a restaurant to fetch a coat for Marcel, who sits huddled and shivering at the table. Marcel is the still centre of all this kinetic activity, he is like the flying arrow in Zeno’s second paradox, which is shot from the bow but never arrives at its target because it does not move. Why does Zeno’s arrow not move? Because (this is Aristotle’s explanation) the motion of the arrow would be a series of instants, and at each instant the arrow fills that entire space of that instant, and this (Zeno would say) is a description of stillness. So if you add all the instants of stillness together you still get still. No one would deny that Proust’s novel streams with time, and with arrows shooting in all directions. But you could also think of the whole novel in your mind as one big stopped instant, since it takes Marcel the entire three thousand pages of the story to get around to the point of beginning to write it. On the last page he shoots his arrow but he does Zeno one better, he shoots it backwards, since you have just finished reading the novel he is proposing to write. It gives me a bit of a headache to think about Zeno and his paradoxes for very long, although I enjoy his deadpan delivery. Here is a shot of Zeno-antidote from that devoted Proust scholar, the filmmaker Chris Marker (Sans Soleil): “That is how history advances, plugging its memory as one plugs one’s ears… [but] a moment stopped would burn like a flame of film blocked before the furnace of the projector.”

From: The Albertine Workout, Copyright ©2014 Anne Carson, New Directions Poetry Pamphlet #13

Image source: The arrow

Sans Soleil

Anne Carson

Still #writephoto

Thursday photo prompt

spring

 

This calm landscape makes waiting a sweet pleasure: the stillness of the air, the lambs’s voices, the sharp green in the trees. Here you said once you would come back, so I wait here, every year, at the same spot, near the water, looking at the sky’s reflection.

Nothing has changed, the sheep, the trees, the soft grey of the houses. Well, only me, getting older, otherwise, your absence is the same, year after year.

Storm #writephoto

Thursday photo prompt

storm

 

It’s lonely up here, one doesn’t meet humans too often, mostly the locals are ravens and rabbits and moles, and the occasional eagle. But I like it, this is my place, where I dream, and remember. There are sweet memories, and also dark and stormy ones.

Yes, there is a storm coming this way now. I love it, the low clouds, a drop of rain here and there, I can feel the strong winds already, snaking through my empty eye sockets, resonating in my skull. “The Old One”, used to call me the villagers, when there was still a village nearby, long ago.

Nowadays the Old One merely enjoys the peace, and the storm.

Daybreak #writephoto

Thursday photo prompt

daybreak

 

“It must be done,” she said in a calm voice, her everyday voice.

The dawn was stunning. “I am going to leave you, and all the beauty…” he thought, silent. He had made the pledge long ago, when it all started. Invasion. Invincible machines. Cities burnt to ashes.

Then, all knew it would take some sacrifice. Against inhumanity, to win and survive would take more than courage. There, a short distance from them, lied the devils, yet unaware.

They would see him, though, but they would not, could not recognise what he was before it was too late. Just a human being. They may even try to capture him, to play.

His comrades had already disposed of the other aliens. It took only a small nuke, for each nest. But it took a human to do it. This was the last nest left.

The human spirit.

They kissed. There was no tear: they were both beyond tears. Her chopper waited nearby.

He checked his watch. In ten minutes he would start the walk toward the hill. By then his wife would be far enough. She would see the mushroom though. Just a small nuke.

Remembering H.G. Wells

Entrance #writephoto

Thursday photo prompt

portal

 

In the depth of the cave lies a long hidden secret, visible only to the initiated: to those who truly love this land, who have ploughed its fields, nurtured its trees and respected all that lives here. The secret tells them where to hide, how to protect their children and how to honour their ancestors.

The initiated know that the invaders will come, again, as they did in the past, hate and fury, rage to destroy. But they will be, again, defeated, as were the others before them and the ones who will come after them.

For deeper still, lies the Magus, who will awake, at the sound of the horn, when the land is violated. Fear his wrath, as he avenges those who were slain by the Evil, and the corpses of the invaders line up the roads all the way back whence they came.

Keep #writephoto

Thursday photo prompt

keep

 

It may surprise you, no doubt, but I am still here. Yes, in this old keep. It has been my home, all these centuries, since the fatal siege that killed most of my people. Well, most of them, not all. You see, below the keep is a long tunnel. Its access could be easily blocked. At the other end is the sea. We had plenty of provisions, all the weapons we could use, we survived for years. As you can see, from here I could look at the traitor, over there, in what was our tower. One clear morning, that was before we collapsed the entrance to our domain, I killed him, one careful shot from my longbow. Ha ha! That was a kick in the ants nest. They tried everything, water, fire, poison… It was too late for them.

So, you may well ask. What did we do all these years? Well, you know your history, or rather what they, and their ‘historians”, told you. The usurpers stayed. We occasionally went out and killed a few of their mercenaries, but this was hopeless. The people were terrified. We lived from fishing, a little hunting, which was more dangerous. My companions died, one by one. I held their funeral at sea, during the night. Finally, I was on my own. More years passed. I am still here. I don’t think anyone can see me, but I have no idea what I look like, now. By the way don’t trust those images of me in museums: I know they made me look awful. As they say, the victors write history, and have pictures made of their victims.

Not that I see myself as a victim any longer.

Ex Machina

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“She’s made of small parts, of metal, and plastic, of things none of them human, do you understand that?”

I do, I know the argument, humans are being phased out, it all started long ago. And, now, it’s difficult to work out the difference, to know who’s “real”, and what isn’t. Our reality has shifted. The others live among us, and who is to say it cannot go on.

Still, she’s there, she’s to stay. There is no-one else.

 

Image source

Offering #writephoto

Thursday photo prompt

offering

 

Time has now come. I expect her, I have long expected her, and, now, I know she’s there, close to the gates. She bears the chalice. From it, I will drink, to the last drop.

And so, the prophecy will be fulfilled, the order restored, the gods appeased.

Do I regret anything? I had a long life, known many winters, and so many springs: so much ice, so much sand, I hear the sound of bells.

She’s there, at my door, they tell me.

I know she’s beautiful, their messengers always are. I take a last look, out of the window of my room, at the far away hills, just touched by moonlight.

So many seas, so many mountains.

Time has come.

 

Encounter with an Angel, a pre-Christmas tale

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I stood waiting at the traffic lights with a few other humans, and I noticed her immediately: her posture, the recognisable signs of strength and gentleness. There are some very beautiful beings in this city, but this was enough for me to keep my eyes on her, as the traffic roared past us. She turned her head round toward me, and I saw the light in her blue eyes, and heard the melody of her voice in a concert of crystalline bells:

“You look worried, my friend, and you should not be,” said the Angel with a dazzling smile, “We know that not all is well in this world, but this is no different from all times,” she continued, as I looked at her face in awe. “Besides, there are some very good things happening, even if it is sometime difficult, for you, to recognise them. You should know that every time the Enemy scores one, We win two, sometime even three. So, please relax, and keep your faith in Her, for She won’t abandon you, however stupid you might be, most of the time.”

I was speechless. People walked around me. The lights had changed from red to green and back to red again. The Angel had gone, in a cloud of bells.

She knows

Harvard_Theatre_Collection_-_Brünnhilde,_TS_40.40

 

She knows how much I value her, her role, her character, and she plays hard to get.

“You have to show me, not good enough just to say: ‘she possessed him, he was what her will dictated.’ You have to write it, convincingly, a good two thousand words, at least, showing how much this is true, this is his reality, the truth about my power…”

And, of course, she means her power over me too. I have to admit she’s at the center of this, the lady of the forest, the magician, the witch, she who inspires me. But she wants more. She wants success, fame, she wants to be on the stage. I have to work harder. The plot is too complicated. It’s not, solely, about her. She, is merely interested on how bright she will shine, a heroin for our time.

“And then you have to show what I can do, not fiddling in the bushes, the real me: just look, deep in my eyes!”

She has gorgeous eyes, a deep green, turning grey, when she’s really angry, like now.

So I must reform, understand that this is her book, not mine. That this is her story, not just any story.

Or else.

 

Image: Brünnhilde, By Odilon Redon – Houghton Library, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3721653b