Allegra Pazzi: Dr. Fell, do you believe a man could become so obsessed with a woman, from a single encounter? Hannibal Lecter: Could he daily feel a stab of hunger for her and find nourishment in the very sight of her? I think so.
This is the kind of day it was: hot and melancholy.
Vide Cor Meum is a song composed by Patrick Cassidy based on Dante’s “La Vita Nuova,” specifically on the sonnet “A ciascun’alma presa,” in chapter 3 of the Vita Nuova. The song was produced by Patrick Cassidy and Hans Zimmer and was performed by Libera/Lyndhurst Orchestrathe, conducted by Gavin Greenway. The song first appeared in the movie Hannibal, while Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Inspector Pazzi see an outdoor opera in Florence, and was specially composed for the movie. This aria was chosen to be performed at the Oscars in 2002 during the presentation of a lifetime achievement award to producer Dino De Laurentis and at the 53rd Annual Emmy awards.
Chorus: And thinking of her
Sweet sleep overcame me
I am your master
See your heart
And of this burning heart
(Chorus: She trembling)
Weeping, I saw him then depart from me.
Okay, so I’m not a tremendous Jack Black fan, but I do think the guy is funny. But when I saw his latest role, it almost made Pepsi come out of my nose. I know that the clip has already gone viral, but it’s worth talking about just because of the actors who gave time to participate in it. “Proposition 8—The Musical” is a star-studded video that was written by Marc Shaiman, Tony-award winner of “Hairspray” and directed by Adam Shankman, and the actors play supporters and foes of Prop 8.
John C. Reilly and Allison Janney lead the gay marriage foes, who all happen to be dressed in Sunday best dark clothes. The “gays,” who include Margaret Cho, Maya Rudolph, Andy Richter, and Nicole Parker, are dressed in bright colors and look more like hippie protesters. And then Jack Black drops in as Jesus.
Black’s Jesus points out the hypocrisy of picking and choosing certain parts of the Bible to follow, for example the outdated notion of stoning people for their sins. Neil Patrick Harris acts as a type of Greek Chorus for the anti-gays, pointing out the economic advantages to gay marriage: “Every time a gay or lesbian finds love at the parade, there’s money to be made.”
Shaiman said that he felt some guilt over the referendum, which prompted him to act: “I had just been taught this terrible bitter lesson about being lazy, and it lit a fire under my fat ass.” Subsequently, he wrote the piece in one day, recorded it the next and shot it in a single day in another week. Shaiman’s, in commenting on his mini-musical, declared, “If I’m going to stand on the soap box, at least let me sing and dance.” As Shaiman said on Keith Olbermann, the passage of Proposition 8 was kind of a slap in the face: “Election night, America throws this great party, and the gays [were] left off the list.”
Truth and Consequences
The video has been called a “viral picket sign.” Personally, I think that it’s one of the boldest and best statements to come out against Proposition 8. Yes, it’s very in your face, as it’s supposed to be, but it’s also funny. The fact that we’re still trying to legislate against gay marriage in this country truly distresses me. Marriage, like many other things, should be a personal, private choice. People do not choose to be gay; they are born that way. To condemn them for something over which they have no choice or control does not seem to me to be either loving or forgiving.
Living is hard enough under the best of circumstances. Who are we to make those circumstances harder for other people simply because they want to live life just like anyone else: a house, a mortgage, life insurance policies, health insurance, maybe some children? I’ve known a lot of straight people who had no business being married. Their relationships were completely dysfunctional. They treated each other like crap, and their children suffered greatly because of it. There is nothing that says a marriage between a man and a woman is going to be perfect or better than a marriage between two women or two men. I know two men who have been together for a very long time and are married in every way except legally. They own property together, make all major decisions together, have friends together, love each other, have arguments just like any other couple. Worry over finances and whose family they will visit over the holidays. What makes their union different, or worse, wrong?
Look them in the face and tell them that their love for each other isn’t good enough. That their life together doesn’t count. That what they have isn’t real. That one of them wouldn’t grieve over the death of the other. You cannot do it because it simply isn’t true.
The far right fundamentalists have very rigid ideas about the Bible and heaven and hell and right and wrong, and that is certainly their right. That is what this country is based on: religious and individual freedom. Far be it for me to say that they do not have the right to believe in the things in which they believe. The Mormons in Utah who poured so much money into getting Proposition 8 passed in California have the right to believe what they wish to believe as well. But it troubles me that there was a definitive blurring of church and state in this case, especially over state lines in which the LDS from UTAH came into CALIFORNIA and worked fervently for the passage of Prop 8. It seems that there should be some ramifications for the LDS church if they did not set up a separate entity to cover those massive donations.
The Circles of Hell
Essentially, according to basic theology of fundamentalism, just about all of the rest of us are going to hell: Jews, Catholics, Muslims, those who have not been born again, gays, people like me who prefer to keep my beliefs personal and private, and pretty much anyone who hasn’t answered the call to be born again. It’s a big list. On the other hand, for Muslims, all of the infidels will be going to hell. For Catholics, I’m not sure who goes to hell. Methodists and Presbyterians are a little more open about it, I believe. Buddhists don’t believe in hell. Episcopalians are pretty close to Catholics, so I don’t know how that works, but I think that there’s purgatory in there somewhere. Unsure about Judaism. I know that a lot of the gay community worship at Unitarian Churches, so maybe there are no stipulations about hell. I think with LDS you go to hell if you do something against the prophet, and Quakers, well they’re so peaceful, I’m not sure how they would end up in hell.
I don’t even want to ponder which parts of hell where we’ll all land. It’s much too complicated and sometimes tedious, but Dante’s was very meticulous in creating places for everyone, so trust me when I say that no one should feel left out.
My point is this: why are we so concerned with who is going to hell? Shouldn’t we be more concerned with our own paths? I mean, my path has been pretty rocky. I know that I haven’t been a saint, but neither have I been a great sinner. In living my life, I would think that judgment for others is the last thing that I have time on which to dwell. I’m still acutely aware that my journey is not even remotely over. Like Frost, I “took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”
If we’ve learned nothing in the past few months, then perhaps we need to go back a little bit farther in time. For example, let’s take a look at one man who spent 27 years in a prison cell unjustly and never gave up hope, who came out still believing in the goodness of people, in equality for all, and the possibility of change:
“Our single most important challenge is therefore to help establish a social order in
which the freedom of the individual will truly mean the freedom of the individual.
We must construct that people-centered society of freedom in such a manner
that it guarantees the political liberties and the human rights of all our citizens.”
~ Nelson Mandela
Speech at the opening of the South African parliament, Cape Town25 May 1994.
“The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.” – A. Einstein
“The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.” – A. Einstein
I have always wished that I could appreciate the beauty of pure mathematics in the same way that brilliant mathematicians and physicists do. Truly. I was reminded of this last night when I watched a special on one of my lifelong heroes, Albert Einstein.
For people like Einstein, mathematics is art. Numbers on a page are akin to Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.” In fact, the “Mona Lisa,” was painted based on a mathematical premise known as the Golden Ratio:
The Golden Ratio, also known as the Golden Number or the Golden Section, is defined as the ratio of the lengths of the two sides of any Golden Rectangle. That is, if you take a Golden Rectangle and divide the length by the height, you will have the Golden Ratio. Traditionally, mathematicians have denoted the Golden Ratio by the Greek letter phi (φ). (http://library.thinkquest.org/27890/goldenRatio2.html)
Leonardo da Vinci is regarded as a Renaissance man because of his integration of art and science. He is not only famous for his paintings and sculpture, but also for his drawings, such as “The Vitruvian Man,” as well as his sketches of a flying machine, a hang glider, and numerous studies of human anatomy, all based on mathematical and physical principles of angles, lines, arcs, and relational gravity.
Of course, da Vinci was predated by the Greek Archimedes, whose studies in mathematics and physics are thought to be the origins of pi as well as the principles of the lever. Archimedes was working around 250 B.C. in Sicily. Then, of course, following da Vinci, was Galileo, who was perhaps the first to posit that the laws of nature were dictated by math. In The Assayer, Galileo stated that “Philosophy is written in this grand book, the universe … It is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles, and other geometric figures” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_Galilei).
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – A. Einstein
But getting back to Einstein, this man spent almost a decade on his General Theory of Relativity (not to be confused with his theory of relativity), which he presented in 1916. This was the subject of the show that I watched last night. What I found the most amazing about the entire show was how this man with the beginnings of his wild hair would fill pages and pages with these long equations and know, just know that they were incorrect. But then I tried to relate his equations to words, and in a way it made sense to me. His numbers were a writer’s words. His numbers had their own elegance and truth for him. They were truth.
He could look at a page of numbers and see something larger. I can stare at a page of numbers, equations, and see absolutely nothing, I mean, absolutely nothing. That has always made me feel stupid: the way in which numbers come alive for some people. I know that it is a brain function thing: some people work with one side of their brain; other people work with the other side of their brain. And then there are some people, like da Vinci, who manage to tap into both sides of their brain and encompass all of it. That is what I have always been so jealous of: I want to tap into both sides of my brain. I want to work with words, and I want to see the beauty of numbers so that I can look at space and see not just the beauty of the stars, but also the beauty of reaching the stars.
“Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds.” – A. Einstein
I have read countless articles on how human beings only use a very small portion of their brain function, that scientists are always looking for ways to open up that untapped potential. It’s the stuff of sci-fi horror movies—The Manchurian Candidate and others, depositing information into that unused portion of the brain only to have it come alive at some later time, usually inconvenient to real life, but great for the plot line. But you know that there are individuals who have tapped into part of that potential. We have seen and heard about them all throughout time, and they have come from all walks of life: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Alexander the Great, Dante, Beethoven, Einstein, Frank Lloyd Wright, Dorothea Lange, Le Corbusier, Bill Gates, Mozart, etc.
They are people who have achieved greatness in different fields for different reasons. I have only named a minute few. They have contributed in great ways and in horrible ways to our history because they have had the ability to see beyond the here and now. They have had the ability to tap into just that small part of their brains that most people use. They have melded the words with the numbers to put it into the crudest possible sense. In other words, they have touched greatness and changed the world and changed history.
Granted, Einstein was myopic when it came to his work. He had very little time for his family. He did, however pay attention to events around him. He was a pacifist, and he hated the events of WWI and the participation of colleagues of whom he had once greatly sought respect and admiration. He was very certain that his ideas were correct, so certain in fact, that he bartered for a divorce from his first wife on the condition that when he won the Nobel Prize, she could have the money if she would grant him a divorce. His biggest concern was getting what he wanted when he wanted it and being allowed to do as he wished. But no one who worked with him doubted his dedication or his genius.
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” – A. Einstein
Which takes us back to general relativity and one of my favorite concepts: an event horizon. Somehow, and don’t stick me on the particulars because I won’t even pretend to understand it all, when an object becomes sufficiently compact, general relativity predicts the formation of a black hole, a region of nothingness in space. In general relativity no material body can catch up with or overtake a light pulse. The study of spacetime is called global geometry.
Now, as I understand it, using global geometry, some boundaries can be identified, and these boundaries are called horizons, and a black hole is one of these horizons because it is cut off from the rest of space time (bear with me here, I think that I’m almost there). There are other types of horizons in the universe because the universe expands. Horizons from the past are called particle horizons and cannot be observed. Horizons from the future cannot be influenced and are called Event Horizons! I finally understand the term. I really do. How cool is that?
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science.” – A. Einstein
So while I look at a painting such as Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” and I may not see the Golden Mean, and I cannot appreciate the culture of pi and the fact that people spend time trying to carry it out beyond a trillion digits or why this is important, I don’t discount the art involved in this pursuit. As to myself, I am gloriously appreciative of the fact that somehow I have come just a little bit closer to understanding the mathematical definition of what an Event Horizon is, although I know that in actuality, I probably haven’t.
I do know that space and time are on another dimension, one that I cannot comprehend, just as I cannot truly comprehend the space between quarks. The closest that I have ever come was how it was explained in the movie “The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension,” which made complete sense to me” . . . perhaps because it was visual and utterly nonsensical.
Ah well. Just remember, “no matter where you go, there you are.” More later. Peace.