the cats are alive

August 6, 2007

Science is interested in the precise analysis and study of the material world, and it has no heart. It knows nothing about love or compassion or righteousness or purity of mind. It doesn’t know the inner world of humankind. It only knows the external, material world that surrounds us.

Venerable Walpola Rahula, Theravadin monk

A billion blue whys stuck in boxes
mew for their Schrodinger. Einstein’s spooky action
will not cover their distance from the light.

The cats are dying. They accept this now.
Their tears soften cardboard, setting them free
to find the laps of their remaining lives.

9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 – the next folds
into the empty whole like a sephirot,
containing spirals of endlessly reflected stars.


2 Responses to “the cats are alive”

  1. shame this is about Cats and Science, and not just cats for their own sake, because cats are lovely. Oh well. I like how the URL for this poems page is “The Cats Are Dead”. Nice touch. Anyway; “A billion blue whys stuck in boxes” – why not? Curiosity is killing the cat. Institutionalised, normative curiosity I suppose, thats what science is. It’s interesting that Einstein is “spooky” though, like there’s something unknown, like he’s a magician. Can we can blame him for the Atom Bomb? Really he’s the little kitten who spilt the milk and started it all. Perhaps he was one of the few who truly “felt”, did it for knowledge, not selfishness. Good poem.

  2. Einstein’s spooky action is what he himself called ‘spooky action at a distance’ i.e. quantum entanglement of distant particles, a principle that has been recently applied to developing a method of teleportation. But yes, I also see Einstein’s major work, Relativity, as a ‘spooky’ episode of inspiration; I have read that it was quite unexpected and by far the high point of his career.

    I agree that Einstein was a very genuine and in fact very spiritual person. He expressed great admiration for Buddhism. I like to think he would agree with my little poem’s pro-Buddhist sentiment, that it is not enought to ‘know’ if one lacks compassion or an answer to suffering.

    Of course no cats were ever put in boxes with a 50/50 chance of dying; the experiment was purely hypothetical. But I thought it would be fun to look at things from their (hypothetical) point of view for a change…

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