Tuesday, August 20, 2013



The technical term for "dilly-dally" is reduplication - that is, a word that is repeated exactly or with a slight change. Babies say them, " mama, papa, no-no, bye-bye, choo-choo, night-night,  pee-pee, poo-poo." Even adults use them, "chit-chat, hokey-pokey, honey bunny." We repeat ourselves because we like to say, "I told you so."

Today we interpret the dilly-dally to mean, "To waste time, especially in indecision; dawdle or vacillate." See the FreeDictionary.

The OED dates the first use of the word from 1741, it showed up in a romantic novel, which is appropriate, but the word must have been in common use. In the 13th century, the French invented the word dalier, meaning "to amuse oneself,"quite possibly romantically, for the English created the word daliance, today's dalliance, to mean a romantic affair merely for pleasure.

detail of Salvador Dali, by Philippe Halsman, 1954

"Dilly" rhymes with "silly," and what is sillier than an old man who engages in a sad sweet dalliance that goes nowhere and ends badly. That makes him twice the fool.

Why Salvador Dali, you ask?

Don't dilly-dally Dali. Many of Dali's paintings showed a melted time clock, a symbol of the relativity of space and time.Then, there is the story of how Salvador was named for an older brother, also named Salvador, who died 9 months before Salvador was born. When he was a young boy, he was taken to the grave of his brother and told he was a reincarnation. That makes him a reduplication in my eyes.

Friday, August 16, 2013


Hay at Lake El Dorado Kansas


That's where I should leave it. Then one could interpret the image as a visual cue for a greeting. Or, a comment on the end of summer in Kansas. A mathematician would think of perspective, and a neural scientist the effect of color on the brain.

A poet would enjoy the image for what it is, beautiful.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Vanishing Point

Is reality what we perceive? Perhaps, reality has its own existence beyond our human ability to see and know, but, if so, how would we know?

a dusty Kansas road in Sumner County, Kansas, 2013

A vanishing point in a picture is a point beyond which we cannot see. An artist would understand that it is a matter of perspective. Perspective meaning how in space we relate to worldly objects. The artist observes that all longitudinal lines point to the vanishing point, a point beyond which nothing can be see. The horizon is, of course, the exception. It stretches infinitely in a 360 degree arc to our point of reference.

The old man was at the Lake of the Ozarks this last weekend with friends. The conversation gently moves from wine and women to the subject of string theory. Sting theory, in a nutshell, is man's attempt to understand how non-dimensional points become one-dimensional objects. The old man's friend attempted to explain string theory. So, we must begin with Einstein's famous equation E = mc(2) . "At some point," the friend explains, "matter disappears and only energy exists." "If this is so," says the old man, then,  "I can pound my fist upon the table until the energy's force creates matter."

Saturday, August 3, 2013

All Men Are Created Equal

The history of civilization is brief. A scientific analysis of artifacts from a cave in South Africa reveals that man were carved bone tools, using pigments, made beads and even used poison 44,000 years ago. And a study of the nearly 2,000 figures of the more than 17,000 year old paintings of the Lascaux Caves in southern France, reveals symbolic dot clusters within figurative images that correlate with the heavenly constellations of Taurus, the Pleiades and the grouping known as the "Summer Triangle". But, if we limit our search to historic times apart from prehistoric times when "records of the past begin to be kept for the benefit of future generations" then we need not look further than 5,000 years ago when city-states arose in the Middle East along the Tigris and Euphrates, in the Indus Valley, and in the river valleys of China.

I say civilization is brief, for, anatomically, modern humans first appeared in the fossil record in Africa about 195,000 years ago.

We have come a long way, slowly. And, it is all the more remarkable to know that America has only been around for less than 300 years.

America is unique in the annals of human history, for it stands for the proposition that "All men are created equal".  This revolutionary idea certainly sounded good to the Founding Fathers, and to Thomas Jefferson, who included the phrase in the Declaration of American Independence.

American, and the ideal of equality, has been built generation by generation. We are a new breed, rooted in all races of the world, colored in all the colors of all the races, with all their varying creeds and beliefs - a sort of ethnic anarchy. I am reminded of this fact every time I take a taxi, driven by someone with an unfamiliar name, or visit a restaurant that offers up dishes from every continent, or walk down the main street America and see and hear someone who is unlike me. We are different, and from our differences we draw our strength. And yet, somehow in time, these differences become less and less, until we realize that we are more alike than we are different.

This fact, that, though different we are the same, comes to me every time I visit a school and watch the children of the many different races learning what it means to be American. It is the same process that countless American generations have gone thorough. And, so far, it has stood us in good stead.

All men, and women, are created equal. America is still working on this ideal.