Winter 1995 • Vol. XVII No. 1 PoetryJanuary 1, 1995 |

Striving All My Life

Maxwell said, There is no more powerful way to introduce knowledge to the mind than . . . as many different ways as we can, wrenching the mind away from the symbols to the objects and from the objects back to the symbols. Maxwell said, I have been striving all my life to be free of the yoke of Cartesian coordinates; I found such an instrument in quaternions: do I need quaternions to talk about light? Alas, the square of quaternions is negative—but Gibbs's vectors, uncouth seemingly, work well, in any dimension, with a very great capability for interpreting space relations. Rukeyser said, Critical minds that approach the world with love have but one possible defense: to build a system. Rayleigh said, I protest the compression. Gibbs: I myself concluded that the paper was too long.

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