"I am 3/4ths Canadian, and one 4th New Englander - I had ancestors on both sides in the Revolutionary war." - Elizabeth Bishop

Monday, February 8, 2021

"Second Load of 110" --

-- was the bus I took home from Lyndon School when I was in Primer Class -- we had to wait until the First Load had been safely delivered before we could embark on our quotidian trip home. I have spent this morning watching the 1936 Japanese film "Mr. Thank You," based on Yasunari Kawabata's short story of the same name, a depiction of a bus covering a route of some eighty kilometers through rural Japan to Tokyo, its driver as famous along his route for expressing his gratitude to every person he passed and flock of chickens he scattered as Abner Packer was on the road to Mobile for exchanging waves with Buddy and Miss Sook in Truman Capote's "Christmas Memory"; just the other day I was reading C. S. Lewis's The Great Divorce, with its bus journeying from Hell to Heaven, and its own curious driver. These disparate vehicular peregrinations combine for me with the bus in Bishop's "Cape Breton" and thence with its Doppelganger journeying west in "The Moose" -- all these embodying some vast archetypal microcosm, the universality of which in literature I find appropriately paralleled in mathematics by the computational universality of one of the simplest one dimensional cellular automata, "Rule 110" (wouldn't you just know it would be 110...) in Wolfram's numbering scheme for such objects. Looking out the window of this Bus of Buses, I can just make out now, for once, then, something -- 

Apostles.  Lupins.
Admonitory fingers.
Their sole suppliants.

for Elizabeth Bishop
on her one hundred tenth birthday.

I am so grateful to my partner in crime, Sandra Barry, for providing the First Load of 110 earlier this morning, making this second load possible, and to her partner in crime, Emma Fitzgerald, for having generously shared with me some time ago a photograph she took of lupins in the garden of Casa Mariana in Ouro Preto, which convinced me of the universality of correspondences between Nova Scotia and Minas Gerais.  

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