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Gödel and Einstein
by J. Richard McLaughlin

Kurt Gödel used to walk every day with his friend Albert Einstein, he
of the famous hair, white ferns sprouting wildly from a universe most
of us will never find. Einstein generally didn't wear socks; perhaps the
curvature of the space-time continuum that he had discovered under his couch,
or in a cupboard, simply curled around his toes and kept them warm.

Gödel's hair wasn't white, but his chalk was, hieroglyphing a lacy
choreograph of the universe on a smaller universe on a blackboard at
Princeton, where, like his friend, he didn't have what the rest of us would
consider a real job, making hamburgers or selling condominiums. Gödel
wore socks and was generally regarded as well dressed, dapper even.

Since Albert, which is what Kurt called him, had discovered that energy
and matter were the same, that space and time were the same, he
confirmed something that Lao Tzu, who also hadn't worn socks, had
figured out long ago, that space and time, love and death, life and hate
were all one, but Lao Tzu hadn't had the math for it.

The fact that time is essentially a long stretchy booger confused numerous
people, but it was hard to argue with Einstein, who they say slept twelve hours
a night, so he was probably well-rested and on top of his game when he discovered
this in a drawer or under his bed, or, more likely, while riding in his metaphorical
spaceship towards the stars, which were not confused at all.

Gödel, of course, being Einstein's friend and also quite brilliant, was entranced
by the whole strange stretchy boogerly beauty of it all but felt compelled to worry
at it, twisting it into little booger loops and knots and so forth, which would have gotten
most of the rest of us into trouble when we were kids if our parents had seen us,
because, like Lao Tzu, we wouldn't have had the math for it either.

Gödel had an idea about time, too, but he had to construct his own special
universe for it, a few, actually, that people naturally came to call Gödel universes.
In Gödel's universe, he proved that time doesn't exist. This, naturally, bummed Einstein
out; but he finally had to concede that he couldn't disprove his friend's theory, even
though he had all the math in the world.

It bummed everyone else out even more, because most of us don't have any time at
all to begin with, to dance infinity in chalk, to ride our own metaphorical spaceships to
whatever particular universe may suit our fancies. Maybe we can make our own some
day, but I'm not sure what we would fill it with, maybe socks, or just a comfortable couch
where you and I could again sit and have all the time we ever needed.



About the author:
I live in Boston, Massachusetts, where I'm a semi-professional jazz guitarist who endeavors to apply jazz improvisational technique to literary form. I have been published in Ubuntu Journal and will have a piece appearing in the next issue of Breadcrumb Scabs. My newest book of poetry, "In No Particular Order," is currently under consideration for publication.



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Midnight Picnic
a novel by
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