The Beauty of TeX

This poem was written after a spontaneous spiritual awakening that happened one morning in my college dorm room, when I was 18. At the time, my brother was getting quite into LaTeX, a math markup language. I thought of “TeX” as pure information, without the added layer of “font” aka conceptual thinking / stories. Later in my meditation journey, I’d come to name this quality as “Just This”-ness (or beginner’s mind, that zen is big into cultivating).

The Beauty of TeX

I found the truth this morning
The truth about the brain
The neurons had aligned themselves
And exploded all the same
They showed me that there was no truth there
Not in cells and lines
Not in food and molecules
Not in sands of time
Three dimensions are so easy
Backache, earthquake
Teaspoons of this, you make a cake
And I meet the man at a quarter to three under the olive tree
But that’s the vital lie, that makes us jittery
I don't know if it's kids or adults
When it starts to kick, or if you come with it
And life’s a struggle to unstick
The lie that keeps you combing hair
And brushing teeth and thinking “In a year, where will I be?”
While pencils turn on the page
From writers to mathematicians
And people turn off the truth
And turn on televisions
Because the brain is a machine
That lives in another place
But we keep it here
Mapped to scratches, aches
Deadlines, pantomimes
And worry and delusion
I'm only just outside all this
On the corner, but I see where it’s leading.
And I bring it to you, beaming, loud and clear. Over the Beauty of TeX. Text without the visual attached, the tone of voice, just pure kernel of idea. And through TeX I bring you math which stirs an image in that place. And through TeX I bring you poetry, which does the same, but more ambiguously, but still just one thing at one time for one person, so perhaps it's as sure as math. But anyways, TeX is a candle, and around it's infinite darkness. So please, now that you've seen it, I'll put it out. And of course to keep this whole thing going we need our hair and teeth and paychecks and sense of security.
But don't get too caught up in it, friend.
The game of superglue mapping has claimed too many.
I need to rush off now, and do some of it myself. But it's worth finding your way around the infinite no-place. Put the goldfish in the water and let it go.
I don't know how many roads your brain has to take you from where you are now. But hopefully one will circle around the whole colossal thing. And it will see itself. And realize that it is free from this here world.

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