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Sicula

This gallery contains 10 photos.

My daughter, Victoria Accardi, had the opening for her show, Sicula: A Cultural Retrospective Through Portraiture this past weekend. The series of portraits explore her upbringing in the American-Sicilian culture of her father, (Sicula is an Italian word that denotes a quality … Continue reading

Simple and Elegant Do Not Mean Easy

Gone are the two theories, gone their troubles and delicious reflections in one another, their furtive caresses, their inexplicable quarrels; alas, we have but one theory, whose majestic beauty can no longer excite us. Nothing is more fertile than these illicit liaisons…
André Weil quoted in Edward Frenkel’s Love and Math (103)

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Simple and elegant Swedish bread twists with almonds and cardamom: an essential component of higher math comprehension

Math is passion. And like passion, it has its dark side. I have written before about the identity crisis that maths seem to provoke ( here and  here), I admit I may have some slight obsession with the subject. In my own life I have, like others, found deep peace and contentment in the objective exactitude of math, but, also like others, when math seems to veer off the course of what we have understood as the applied rules, it is deeply unsettling.

In math, the problem is always well defined, and there is no ambiguity about what solving it means, you either solve it or you don’t (56).

After reading Edward Frenkel’s very fine book Love and Math, I feel I may have come to glimpse the nature of my fascination with math theory. I don’t believe it is our fault that our world-views are thrown by concepts such as imaginary numbers. The trick is, I think,  one must push through the black hole of comprehension that engulfs us, otherwise it is very easy to lose our psychological footing. I believe it all comes down to subjective versus objective truths.

Mathematics is separate from both the physical world and the mental world (234)

Let me first say that I do not in any way want to present myself as somebody who read Love and Math with anything close to full comprehension of the complex and creative math that Frenkel heroically tried to bring within my intellectual reach. But that is not the point. It’s not why I seemed unable to put the book down, nor is it, I think, why he wrote it.

Indeed, the square of any real number must be positive or 0, so it cannot be equal to -1. So unlike √2 and -√2, the numbers √-1 and -√-1 are not real numbers. But so what? (101).

BUT SO WHAT????!!! SO WHAT!? That is the very heart and soul of the identity crisis of myself and many others!? Not so what!? Math is objective. What is the meaning of truth? Where are we then? Who am I? What is real? Why do I matter, oh god, what is the meaning of life? But wait….hang on…a light, a sliver of understanding…while Frankel described how it was in fact true that 2+2=1, I had a Eureka! moment. Yes. I see it! It is true 2+2 does equal 1. The truth is not altered. The truth is objective, it is only the means by which I got there, the translation I used, that altered. The solution is “created” but that creation has nothing to do with the solution other than its ability to allow us to perceive what is already there: the truth. That’s objectivity on an entirely different order. Wow. What a moment. It’s true, it’s like falling in love.

The deeper I delved into math, the more my fascination grew, the more I wanted to know. This is what happens when you fall in love (28).

I believe that our subjectivity is absolute. Inescapable. The only measure by which to ground ourselves in our subjectivity, however, is the purely objective language of math. It’s pure objectivity profoundly orients us. It is the discrete objectivity of math that connects. What a marvelous completeness the totality of subjective and objective truths gives us.

In truth, the process of creating new mathematics is a passionate pursuit, a deeply personal experience, just like creating art and music. It requires love and dedication, a struggle with the unknown and with oneself, which elicits strong emotions (233).

Frenkel’s book is wonderful on multiple fronts, his personal history growing up towards the end of Communist Russia, describing his struggles to overcome the systemic anti-semitism that pervaded the culture, is riveting. His charming delight connecting math to all aspects of life culminating in his 2010 film, Rites of Love and Math, is inspiring and beautiful. He draws on every aspect of life to help bring understanding to the complex math he is explaining, for example he refers to his mother’s borscht recipe to explain particle content of quantum field theory. This , however, brings me to a very serious breakdown in my comprehension, to which I must bring Frenkel to task:

For example, let’s look at this recipe of the Russian soup borscht, a perennial favorite in my home country. My mom makes the best one (of course!). […] Obviously, I have to keep my mom’s recipe secret. But here’s a recipe I found online (196).

My dear Mr. Frenkel, I am afraid that that is not at all “obvious” to me. Please explain, or send recipe.

*title from pg 201

 

 

Sinners

DSC_1147The big mountains sit still in the afternoon light
Shadows in their lap;
The bees roll round in the wild-thyme with delight.

We sitting here among the cranberries
So still in the gap
Of rock, distilling our memories,

Are sinners! Strange! The bee that blunders
Against me goes off with a laugh.
A squirrel cocks his head on the fence, and wonders

What about sin? -For, it seems
The mountains have
No shadow of us on their snowy forehead of dreams

As they ought to have. They rise above us
Dreaming
For ever. One might even think they love us.

Little red cranberries cheek to cheek,
Two great dragon-flies wrestling;
You, with your forehead nestling
Against me, and bright peak shining to peak –

There’s a love song for you! – Ah, if only
There were no teeming
Swarms of mankind in the world, and we were less lonely!

-D.H. Lawrence (Mayrhofen) from,  Look! We Have Come Through!

*Cranberries drizzled with honey

*Bowl made by Victoria Accardi

Akrasia

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I blame you, Dear Man.

Apfel

IMG_1002In the center of it all
Oh, apple of my fall
The parts that I have bitten
Even those that once were hidden
Caught useless in your thrall-
recall! recall! recall!
This is the taste of knowing
Your sweetness reckoning
a delicious peck our greatest haul-
that’s all! that’s all! that’s all!

The Berry Faithful

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A tart for one season
the sweet and the heat
oh give me a reason
come save my belief

*Strawberry tart with pastry cream, decorated with strawberries by my 14 year old son.

Portrait of a Baker

IMG_0425 Break up the butter in the bowl

once more, a diversion, a

delusion, a hopeless ardor.

Fast fingers work cool

to keep down the warmth

that’s there with its longing

and existential angst.

But a moment

slips

and the quick hands skip,

throwing all the effort on a

wasted hip.

An insatiable desire,

for the sweet yes

one aspires.

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The fruit clings to their stone,

IMG_0434like a love with no home.

Press the dough flat

keep the bits to yourself,

and with sugar, so nice, all

arranged and devised, hell,  you just

might  belie that what won’t be

denied.IMG_0442

The Unbaked

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rhubarb and almond paste crust tart

chartreuse at your heart
peeled away, cut up and bruised
there is a bitter taste
undone
what you left in my mouth

The Knife in Your Hand

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If I’m a red berry, bloody and blue
a bursting well, right there, within you.
A sweet berry on your tongue (too few!)
that is, if I’m anything which once you knew.
More than nothing
less than true,
here in the silence of weeping dark hues.
If I’m the almond’s breath that calls,
the executioner’s hand, for me, is all.

JA/2013  *Photo- Almond Berry Tartlet

Fallen Scout

photo
Why would one make a Girl Scout Samoa?
A group I was thrown out of, maybe I told ya?
Reprobate at heart
They were clued-in from the start
By my resistance to green polyester
And a preference to shy self-sequester.

Badge one for the cookie was easily had,
Badge two melting caramel wasn’t so bad,
Toast your coconut nicely for badge number three
Burn your fingers on chocolate if you do it like me.
Put it all together for badge number four,
Then share them with friends who wish you’d made more.

Why would one make a Girl Scout Samoa?
The leader of my troop could not have been colder.
So the badges I have were hand-made on my own,
Needle and thread to my heart they were sown.
But now that I am decidedly older,
I thank you sashed lady green soldiers:
Abandonment, it would seem, makes self-sufficiency bolder.

JA/2013 Photos of cookies taken by Donna Golden, cookies made by us both. With love.