Code for Poetry
Is it not logical,
to a degree
to expect interference;
in so many tables
of order and
sums of attrition,
back to our
object - a place
the ultimate mission -
a higher resolving
of every occasion,
where infinite loops
©️Anna Murzyn Friday 13th May 2022
For Alt234 from your 224
This poem is a hypothetical enquiry without a question mark. The title is not a typo but yes, it is cheesy movie reference.
Fractal. Fractally. Two words, and concepts, of which I am exceptionally fond, fascinated and baffled by.
I will confess my bias: the term fractal was born the same year as me, although it was created by renowned Polish-born French/US polymath https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benoit_Mandelbrot
and I, partially, by a Polish/UK engineer. Both introduced me to the idea of fractals and, as long as I can remember, I have loved everything about the concept of them - symmetrical, dynamic, infinite, vast and microscopic, boundlessly mind-blowing. They are simple and spontaneous in nature yet they are difficult to explain and understand, yielding constant new possibilities across diverse fields.
Fractals represent creative scientific solutions and beauty in chaos.
Initially, in definition, the words fractal and fractally seem contradictory;
fractal (noun): a complex pattern, curve or geometric figure of infinitely repeating symmetry which is self-similar across different scales; snowflakes, crystals, galaxies.
fractally (adverb): having unpredictable outcomes; random, indiscriminate, reckless.
So a fractal seems to be founded on symmetry - order reflected in an infinitely repeating feedback-loop, which sounds very predictable. Whereas its outcome sounds like the exact opposite.
Fractals are confounding yet commonplace, they are found throughout the natural world, from tiny plants to river systems, lightning to brains. Fractal systems usually get more complex the larger they get and thats when things get complicated. Although they are repeated patterns, fractals will spiral off in unpredictable ways — their etymology stems from the Latin word for ‘broken’, hence fractured, fraction and fractious which is why it is so hard to predict how different a pattern will look from its genesis.
It helps to think of a snowflake — each one opening out from itself in identifiable structures, yet each and every one a pattern that is entirely unique. Every snowflake is a fractal.
Fractals occur in fluid mechanics, and the underlying fractal process of Recursion (in essence, solving a huge complex problem by working back to simpler versions of it) is used by coding languages in Computer Science. Fractal systems are used in Data Modelling for extrapolated prediction which, to the non-scientific reader, may seem inconsistent with the fact that fractals are depictions of random unpredictability, of Chaos theory, but I will not attempt to elucidate further on this here.
Crucially, with reference to the poem, humans are fractals. Certainly in a physiological sense; our lungs, brains, veins and arteries, DNA, cell growth, the anatomical list goes on, though I like to think we are fractal in spiritual, intellectual and emotional ways too.
Just as all mammal circulatory systems for example, are fractal in structure, human brains are chemically ‘wired’ to instinctively look for patterns as a basic means of survival. It is why we automatically prefer to make simplistic judgment calls on things we don’t understand and struggle with nuance or unexpected change when under pressure.
At the same time, our hearts and minds create patterns of chaos and symmetry in our lives and our relationships with others because we seek higher, more complex connections than merely the symbiotic gains of protection, mutual comfort or procreation. There is both logic and constant evolution in how we do this; there are consistencies across generations, groups, types of experience and societies, and yet we are all unique in our responses, and thus, so are the resulting outcomes.
And when it comes to the nebulous and chaotic realm of love, that most unpredictable and reckless of endeavours, perhaps we can learn from the spectacular natural harmonies of broken fractals. I must credit my friend in Portland MW Mercer for sagely reminding me of the pertinent words of Kierkegaard “Life can only be understood by looking backward; but it must be lived looking forwards” — something the broken aspects of me struggle with, when it seems as though negative patterns keep repeating themselves.
Thinking fractally is particularly helpful as we face seemingly overwhelming global challenges, which we possess the capacity to overcome if we can only harness our relational powers for good. Humans largely exist either on the edge of survival or in developed societies saturated in rapidly delivered information through polarising media streams fostering a collective psyche with a warring history, an uneasy present and a shared future of environmental self-destruction. In short -fear, disharmony and disorder. In terms of perception of our existential problems, our confidence to solve them and, consequently, our collaborative motivation to do so, working together as a species seems so much easier said than done, even though this is contrary to what is scientifically true.
Here, we need to practice some fractal recursion of our own — in the words of British songwriter Badly Drawn Boy “..sometimes you have to rewind to go forward..” For the fact is that from our very earliest evolutionary beginnings, humans are hard-wired to connect and cooperate in order to survive and thrive. That doesn’t mean it is necessarily easy nor comfortable for all of us, but we are fundamentally social creatures — more snow than fire.
In love and relationships, whether personal or international, the best equation may be a constantly evolving symmetry of imperfections.
©️Anna Murzyn 13th May 2022
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