Lament of the Pharaoh’s Daughter in Summer

Part of a series I’m working on about some biblical stories.

The Pharaoh’s Daughter was the wife of Solomon. Solomon, king of Jerusalem, who desired wisdom above all else, had a harem of a thousand wives and concubines, a feat rivalled maybe only by Genghis Khan? I dunno, but it seems excessive. Apparently it was his love of women that ended up being Solomon’s downfall.

The Pharaoh’s Daughter is the only wife named in the story, although that’s probably not the name on her driver’s license.

Here she is, in a lament that owes a debt to William Carlos Williams’ The Widow’s Lament in Springtime, and to the story in Kings, and to my own misgivings about forgoing relationships in search of wisdom


Lament of the Pharaoh’s Daughter in Summer

Even when you are around
you’re not here. I may have
your eyes, at times, never
your ear. I have looked down 
the bottom of wells for you.
Asked sunsets what to do.

The sun in the afternoon
is muggy and unbearable.
Nor ice, nor dripping reeds
hung from windows will
cool, but the heat keeps me
from being able to miss you.

Only in evenings do I know
the same sorrow as widows
and a dying like the sun’s dying
going down again and again.
You’ve built magnificent houses
but do not know how to live in them.

When will your searching end?
When will this yearning ripen
into wisdom, that you may
be done with learning and
return to a family and to me?
O when, my love, O when?

Knowledge will not warm
a bed. It does not take children
to the park, or kiss a forehead.
Knowing will not sooth the morning
I wake and find you’ve left for good,
having understood some revealed truth.

Wilderness is all that knowledge
knows, and all that satisfies.
It ventures into woods unceasingly.
It strikes out to map and civilize
and breeds, in cities it leaves
behind, contemptuous familiarity.

Next to knowledge I am nothing
but a name, something to check
back on, to be reassured nothing
out of the ordinary has changed.
Only the same want for affection,
only desires, unfulfilled, remain.

Argonautica Holographicum (Part V)

For Part I, click here

For Part II, click here

For Part III, click here

For Part IV, click here


V

Outside the holding cells of the local precinct the two gentlemen from the Pangu Foundation, Hoffit and Maldacena, are halfway through their golden cigarettes. They are wearing identical tang suits, black with white trim. Hoffit is leaning forward on the edge of a plastic chair attached to the wall, elbows on knees. Maldacena is standing beside him, balancing on his heels, his back against the white brick wall. Both men appear lost in deep thought.

Continue reading “Argonautica Holographicum (Part V)”

Argonautica Holographicum (Part IV)

For Part I, click here

For Part II, click here

For Part III, click here


IV

As part of his fellowship Talus stays in a townhouse just across the street from the student union. The small complex is owned by the university and straddles a dead forest extending over the cliffside. A single street connects the townhouses and curves down into the forest, following the edge of the cliff that overlooks the deep maw of the coastline, where the ocean falls off abruptly underneath the earth.

Continue reading “Argonautica Holographicum (Part IV)”

Argonautica Holographicum (Part III)

To read Part I, click here

To read Part II, click here


III

Later that week Talus meets with two gentlemen from the Pangu Foundation, Hoffit and Maldacena. They’re both in their late forties, both white, European. They wear matching tang suits. Hoffit is balding and wears a white moustache and pair of heavy jowls. Maldacena wears a flat top, closely cropped and dyed black to hide his age, though he shows plenty of silver in his stubble. His eyes are black and his brow is heavy and level. They both smoke golden cigarettes, Maldacena very quickly and Hoffit slower, more absent-mindedly. By the time Talus finds them in one of the classrooms of the science building a yellow pall has settled over the desks. He shakes their hands and takes a seat at one of the chairs in the front row. Hoffit sits behind a long rectangular table across from Talus, while Maldacena rests his hip on top of the table.

“We read your email,” Maldacena says in a growling, baritone voice. “The one you sent to the Center’s director.”

“You read my email to Jen?” Talus asks, smiling at first. “Are you guys allowed to do that?”

Continue reading “Argonautica Holographicum (Part III)”

Argonautica Holographicum (Part II)

To read Part I, click here


II

The black box theory of consciousness states that the mind can be fully understood once its inputs and outputs are well-defined. That is to say, when everything surrounding the system is known, the system will be known, too. Though, at such a time, the understanding itself always loses its original intention, for a system whose inputs and outputs are well-defined has vanished into the background of yet another, larger system. And how one understands that still larger system must be answered again by the same endeavour.

To understand Midi, the simulated woman, and her peculiar response to Talus’s command line, is to understand the circumstances of her life within the simulated reality of the Q7.

Continue reading “Argonautica Holographicum (Part II)”