I asked my mathematician friend
if mathematics is an invention
or a discovery, for I had been
wondering about it a long time.
It’s both, he said. First it was a
discovery and then it was an
invention. I thought so, I said.
It’s just like poetry, which first
was a discovery and then was
an invention, except that poetry
keeps reinventing itself while
mathematics doesn’t. It’s done.
That’s because mathematics has
already discovered the truth, so it
doesn’t need to keep reinventing
itself as poetry does, he said.
The trouble is that you poets keep
looking for the truth in the wrong
places. Oh, where’s that? I said.
In your hearts, he said. You’ll
never find the truth there. You’ll
only keep finding the same old lies.
Maybe so, I said. But you have to
admit that you guys need us. For
what? We already have our one
beautiful truth, he said. Yes, I said.
But you need us and our thousands
of beautiful lies to let you bear your
one and only beautiful truth.
by JR Solonche
Editor’s Note: The lack of punctuation and short lines propel the reader through this poem so easily that by the time the end arrives, the truth of the narrative sneaks up almost unnoticed.
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