(non)binary diaries

We are unwitting heirs of a long history of problematic binaries: from the go(o)d-(d)evil of premodernity to the oder-chaos of modernity. Problematic precisely because binaries feed into our double-optic apparatus and reinforce dual worlds. Reconciliation of retinal images does happen, but falls unfortunately in our visionary blind spot. Yet what is blind to two eyes may be perceived by a third.

That morning I had tea with Farida Khannum, and as she sipped the words of Javed Quraishi, the image of the 1956 Dartmouth workshop (which we had just seen the previous day) came to mind: seven men seated on a summer lawn, all scientists and mathematicians gathered ambitiously to throw open a visionary world of artificial intelligence. The poet-singer quips:

(I) barely understand the self
yet (you) talk of visionary worlds 

Sorry Faridaji I don’t condone such poetic hyperbole. It only persists in polarising them and us, art and science, west and east. To my mind it is the melodic form that offers this nazm nuance. She sipped on, silently accepting my back handed compliment.

A few decades later, by the early 1980s, the theoretical physicist David Bohm was already busting binaries. Seeing beyond (Albert) Einstein and (Neils) Bohr, gave him more time to sustain a deep dialogue with philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti. Bohm posited an ‘implicate order’ that seductively synthesised the quantum-classical binary of indeterminacy and certitude. Yet the scientific community has to date systemically sidetracked his proposals because Bohm’s ‘implicate’ was too ‘immaterial’ (and his interlocutor, too ‘spiritual’).

Mention me, and they smirk: he’s too far out 
(even though I’m quite near)

Back in 1967, Susan Sontag quietly proclaimed:

(The Aesthetics of Silence)

Sizing up her silence, I interjected: Faridaji, lets leave hyperbolic poets and habitual physicists behind, and make a mehfil: you and me, David and Susan. I wait into modernity for an approving smile.

(in) this world of deep despair
what (reason to smile) is there

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