The centre

The Dao produces the One.
The One turns into the Two.
The Two give rise to the Three.
The Three bring forth the myriad of things.
— Laozi

Is that a system of mathematical axioms?

Number the number beyond
all numbers
Count the myriad things of Heaven
and Earth
Lay out the way
simplicity
brings forth complexity:
a dove, a flock of doves,
a window, Facebook, this text,
finger, chest,
spinal cord,
heart
and all its blood

Say pi
because a circle is never complete

Say i
for the square root of minus one:
one step in a direction
that can’t be taken

Fabricate a qubit
holding a mixture
of no and yes
immanent, imminent
superposed until measured

What lies like truth at the centre
without a name?

Take a direction opposite to all directions
Send a message back from the farthest shore

Construct a non-commutative algebra
in which x plus y needn’t equal y plus x
but x can’t ever mean one
and y can’t ever be two
let alone i or pi
Construct a mathematics
in which nothing
may be counted

Look in, in to the Planck time,
the dream moment of birth,
where our physics fails
as quantum and gravity clash
and the cosmos is crushed to a jot
immanent, imminent
a tiny infinite Not

Look in, in to the Planck scale,
ten to the minus thirty-three centimetres,
beyond which our flesh of cells and instruments,
in principle, can’t see
Where our physics fails
as quantum and gravity clash
and our systems of coordinates,
our here/there, then/when, this/that,
names, numbers,
are not

Take a selfie at the end of the rainbow
Stand between parallel mirrors and tweet
the farthest reflection

Show
how formlessness
gives rise to form:

a dove, a flock of doves,
a window, Facebook, this text,
finger, chest,
spinal cord,
heart

The blood, the valves, the walls
but not
the chambers.

What lies
like truth
at the centre?

Look in, in, turn away from doves and windows
Forget the myriad things of Heaven and Earth
Theorise the theory of all
theories, model the principle
of principles

Define the space within
all spaces, the algebra
underlying all algebras, the axioms
that (impossibly) lead to all theorems

Number the number beyond all numbers
Diagram the set of sets
Take a selfie
at the end of the rainbow
Send a message back from the farthest shore.

The epigraph is from the Dao De Jing, translated by Wang Keping, in The Classic of the Dao: A New Investigation, Foreign Languages Press 1998, chapter 42.

From A coat of ashes

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