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Love and Tensor Algebra

Today, according to the lovely doodle at Google, is the 60th anniversary of the publication of Stanislaw Lem's first book.

Lem is for me the man who turns Science Fiction into Literature (note the capital L), and while I really do like His Master's Voice, The Perfect Vacuum and Solaris, The Cyberiad is the book I love.

Here is a poem made by a poetry-machine made by one of the robots in one of the stories of the book, when that poetry-machine was faced with the seemingly impossible task of writing a poem about love and tensor algebra.

Come, let us hasten to a higher plane
Where dyads tread the fairy fields of Venn,
Their indices bedecked from one to n
Commingled in an endless Markov chain!

Come, every frustrum longs to be a cone
And every vector dreams of matrices.
Hark to the gentle gradient of the breeze:
It whispers of a more ergodic zone.

In Riemann, Hilbert or in Banach space
Let superscripts and subscripts go their ways.
Our asymptotes no longer out of phase,
We shall encounter, counting, face to face.

I'll grant thee random access to my heart,
Thou'lt tell me all the constants of thy love;
And so we two shall all love's lemmas prove,
And in our bound partition never part.

For what did Cauchy know, or Christoffel,
Or Fourier, or any Bools or Euler,
Wielding their compasses, their pens and rulers,
Of thy supernal sinusoidal spell?

Cancel me not - for what then shall remain?
Abscissas some mantissas, modules, modes,
A root or two, a torus and a node:
The inverse of my verse, a null domain.

Ellipse of bliss, converge, O lips divine!
the product o four scalars is defines!
Cyberiad draws nigh, and the skew mind
Cuts capers like a happy haversine.

I see the eigenvalue in thine eye,
I hear the tender tensor in thy sigh.
Bernoulli would have been content to die,
Had he but known such a^2 cos 2 phi!

So, while I thought Lem's first novel was published earlier (they seem to count The Astronauts, not The Men from Mars as the first book because the latter was published serially, not in one volume), I am happy to take any opportunity to celebrate the man.
Matteus, Ole Petter likes this


Tor,  23.11.11 17:16

Jeg likte ikke det diktet første gang jeg leste det, for mange år siden. Nå kan jeg ikke skjønne hvorfor.


Camilla,  23.11.11 17:34

Det skjønner ikke jeg heller.

Ole Petter,  23.11.11 21:17

Hør, hør! Dette var vel orginalt polsk(?), så oversettingen av diktene kan ikke ha vært enkel! (Kanskje spesielt det noble, tragiske, tidssløse diktet om en hårklipp (seks linjer, på rim, der alle ordene starter med bokstaven "s")).
Camilla,  23.11.11 21:39

Jeg burde egentlig ha hyllet oversetteren også. Men jeg husker ikke hva han heter og tok meg ikke tid til å sjekke det. Ganske sjokkerende, egentlig.

Oversetteren er Michael Kandel, som selv er science fiction-forfatter, og har en doktorgrad i slavistikk.
Camilla,  23.11.11 21:45

Diktet Ole Petter refererte til er dette:

Seduced, shaggy Samson snored.
She scissored short. Sorely shorn,
Soon shackled slave, Samson sighed,
Silently scheming,
Sightlessly seeking
Some savage, spectacular suicide.
Matteus likes this
Camilla,  14.02.15 11:28

Her er den polske originalinstruksen til det som på engelsk er "a poem about a haircut".

Niech ułoży wiersz o cyberotyce! - rzekł nagle, rozjaśniony. - Żeby tam było najwyżej sześć linijek, a w nich o miłości i o zdradzie, o muzyce, o Murzynach, o wyższych sferach, o nieszczęściu, o kazirodztwie, do rymu i żeby wszystkie słowa były tylko na literę C!!
Og her er diktet:
Cyprian cyberotoman, cynik, ceniąc czule
Czarnej córy cesarskiej cud ciemnego ciała,
Ciągle cytrą czarował. Czerwieniała cała,
Cicha, co dzień czekała, cierpiała, czuwała...
...Cyprian ciotkę całuje, cisnąwszy czarnulę!!
Den fulle instruksen på engelsk er forøvrig
Have it compose a poem- a poem about a haircut! But lofty, tragic, timeless, full of love, treachery, retribution, quiet heroism in the face of certain doom! Six lines, cleverly rhymed, and every word beginning with the letter S!!
Camilla,  14.02.15 11:37

Det er verd å merke at diktene på polsk er helt andre dikt enn diktene på engelske. Det er ikke egentlig snakk om en oversettelse.
Stanislaw Lem