i is a number (I’m not)

i is a number (I’m not)

i has a special faculty

it’s constructed

totally

there’s no other

complex number

that’s like that

i was made up

to create the opportunity

to solve equations

in physics

what if i is

the square root

of minus one

what if i

DOES exist?

turns out

you can count on it

to disappear

once the equation is solved

i made things possible

that weren’t possible before

i have a special faculty

i am constructed

totally

there’s no other

complex being

that’s like me

i was made up

to create the opportunity

to solve equations

somewhere, somehow

what if i am

a square root

of minus one

what if I

Do exist?

turns out

you can count on me

to disappear

once the equation is solved

i make things possible

that weren’t possible before

solve equations

create opportunities

i

will disappear

equations solved

opportunities created

i

did disappear

The prompt today at octpowrimo.com was numbers, and host Amy McGrath provided a list of numbers that have specific connotations. My in house mathematician tried to get me to write about cardinal numbers, because they’re counterintuitive, beautiful, inventive and realising they existed needed a lot of inventiveness and creativity (all hail the fabulous brain of Georg Cantor!).

I, on the other hand, fell immediately for i… i has more poetic opportunties than I’ve used. Look at this:

  • the powers of i repeat in a cycle
  • dividing by i is equivalent to multiplying by the reciprocal of i

Doesn’t that want to make you do math – or write a poem?

If you like my attempt at combining poetry with science, you can find more when you click on the tag science.

imaginary number

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mpancha/2505656136

9 thoughts on “i is a number (I’m not)

  1. Spiral Artist

    Alright, so: first of all, I LOVED this. It was exciting just reading this, going back and forth between the lines, watching each one unfold. I love the intercontextuality of this (and if that is not a word, it bloody well is now!) The sense of being constrained by i, both the number and the expression, boundless both and limited still, is expressed so wonderfully here. Defined by the real-concrete and the more intangible, they are nevertheless bound to one another – like an atom with one electron and one proton.

    The imagined grounded in the real (because it always references reality) and the real grounded in the imaginary (because perception IS imagination, after a fashion…)

    Now, that said, I really DUG the switch at the very end, where one becomes a priori and the other a posteriori: one “made” things possible with the solution of the “equation” but the other being “equal to” other things “makes” things possible. The natural conclusion of this and the flip at the end was genius. Now, the number becomes assurance “will disappear” and the i becomes a fact “did disappear.” So borne from fact and into projection, borne from projection and into fact. The transmutation of one into the other and vice-versa.

    I don’t know if I am explaining this well. I am not one for maths.

    In short? Standing ovation is the scene I am looking for. Figure I have about ten seconds before the black hole starts forming… seven… six…

    Reply
    1. cathytea

      Yes! Yes, yes! It’s a miracle of a poem. Your response , analysis, and interpretation are grwat, Spiral ! I feel a bit transformed by this poem , which, I guess is what math can do to a person !

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Letter from Zagreb | Unassorted stories

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