Madison Morrison's Web / Sentence of the Gods / Her


Madison Morrison


Zeus was a kind of be-all and end-all
Whom by great Ge’s advice they had promoted
Those gods immortal hoping to recall
A glory lost to Titans now demoted
King of heaven he took as his first wife
Metis or mind or moral consciousness
Wherein the seeds lay of potential strife
For in the womb of her unconsciousness
She incubated for him competition
From the clear thought first of a grey-eyed girl
Surpassing him in wisdom and position
Then of a later son him hence to hurl
Tell next how Zeus rebelled at that perception
How he swelled swallowing his own conception

We have come a long way in our understanding of myth since the celebration of Joyce’s “mythic method,” since Frye’s quadripartite “seasonal myth” or the velleity of “Shelley’s mythmaking.” A more exacting, historical and analytic, approach to mythology in the ancient world has recently proven instrumental. “In some respects mythology itself,” writes Carolyn Highbie, “can be seen as a counterpart to chronography in early Greece, especially in the hexameter catalogues that record the names, families and deeds of the gods and heroes.”

How swallowing he swelled his own conception
Solidifying thought’s divinity
And of our own world’s subsequent reception
Tell of that insidious trinity
Athena inside Metis inside him
Warlike girl rivaling in wit her father
Mother repressed within his bowels dim
Zeus most uncomfortable with all this bother
Mind in the belly fashioning those arm
That armor clad in which she sprang a day
Her steely virtue superseding charms
Which wisdom once displayed to have her way
And so for woman voiced her liberation
Sing then instead of women the generation

Myth is no longer to be understood apart from the familial, social and political contexts in which it is embodied, not to say defined. “Neither ‘myth’ nor ‘religion’ constitutes a category native to Greek thought,” explains Claude Calame, thereby questioning earlier acceptations of these two terms. “Neither myth nor religion were conceived as such by the Greeks — neither myth as a corpus of (fabulous) tales of gods and heroes dependent on a frame of comprehensive thought, nor religion as a set of beliefs and practices relative to a divine configuration . . .”

Instead of women sing then the generation
Of goddesses who lay a night with Zeus
Thereby expressing love and veneration
Serving the egg that laid the golden goose
Thus Maia Atlas’ daughter in his bed
Conceived the gracious Hermes of the immortals
Herald while Semele on that same head
Did bear a glorious son who gave to mortals
O Dionysus! The sweet vine’s life blood
Nor here forget Alkmene’s greatest throes
Which Herakles from that almighty stud
Produced whose line on down through Hebe goes
And besides these who satisfied his yen
Those goddesses who went to bed with men

Hesiod’s Theogony, like the “text” of Angkor Wat, is a poetic compendium of the forces in, above and beneath the earth that determine its nature and dynamics. Pre-scientific, it is also in a sense pre-poetic, for it has no overarching narrative, nor any scheme of emotional affect. Some modern readers ignore Hesiod, regarding him as neither lyric, dramatic nor epic, whereas the ancients regarded the Theogony as a central epic, one that we now understand described, in poetic form, “the heroic past of Greek cities or the Greek community.”

Goddesses who went to bed with those men
Like heroines who went to bed with Zeus
Never did so because they sought abuse
But insofar as charity required it
Their partners also ardently desired it
Thus did Demeter in a thrice-plowed field
Find irresistible Iasion’s rich yield
And Harmonia Aphrodite’s child
Overtook Cadmus of Thebes young still wild
As death for Hades was a kind of end-all
And power for Poseidon his be-all
So sex for Zeus and those bright goddesses when
They in this dark Olympian light did stir
Tell of him but tell too of her . . . of her

“Considered as religious practices, the stories that we place within the rubric of ‘myth,’” says Calame, “reveal themselves only in particular poetic forms,” among which the Homeric Hymn, the Dithyramb, the Epinicia and the Cult Song, as well as the Theogony. “It is the rules of the genres, divided between institutional ritualities and regularities of discursive order, that contrive to make myths ‘socially and ideologically active.’” This represents a different view of myth from the Romantic conception that persisted through Frazer and his followers.

Tell of her but tell too of him . . . of her
Mortal bedmate to whom descended on
She bore her likeness so the bards concur
There intermingling dusk with rosy dawn
So of the silver feet to Peleus
Did Thetis come that limpid water sprite
To fructify divine Achilleus
And to return him to the fatal fight
So golden Aphrodite in the wood
Answered the clasp of great Anchises’ loin
So Circe in her witch’s motherhood
With human-fleshed Odysseus did join
Could we but speak again of him the pride
He left behind and of his countryside

“Supported by poetic genres, the divine and heroic past of the Greek community” — known as “to Hellenikon” from Herodotus forward — “is inscribed,” says Calame, “in a specific cult institution and ritual poetry.” Myth, tout court, is inseparable from its poetic expression. “These poetic forms make from narratives, appearing to us as mythic, an active history, part of a collective memory realized through ritual.” So much for the disembodied formulation, “Greek mythology,” that viewed “myth” as independent of ritual and literary mode.

And of his country hind he left (beside
The wise maternal goatherd sire Eumaios)
That splendid traveler two worlds astride
Who changes caduceus for lyre to play us
All the sweet melodies we’ve ever heard
Heroic master of affinities
A fluent merchant of heart’s warmth and word
Who circumnavigates infinities
What he had to do with Zeus or Zeus him
We know not though their manners struck a chord
His baritone with Zeus’s bass a hymn
Of order founding Hera to her lord
And suckling adds the theme we can’t resist
Regarding all things known here to exist

“Far from forming a system of thought, from being inscribed in some structure of the human consciousness, from constituting a particular language, the myths in the Hellenic tradition are characterized by a certain plasticity that allows for religious and ideological paradigms offered by a polytheism, one that varies with the multifarious civic space and time of the cities of Greece. It corresponds to a polymorphous cultural memory . . . fulfilled in a performative manner by the acts inscribed in the cult calendar of Athens and Sparta, Delos and Delphi . . . .”

Regarding things all here known to exist
Athena’s descant pierces slightly shaky
Hera’s contralto with a note just missed
As underneath to make it sound quite flaky
Hepahistos adds his clanking orchestration
Here exist all wise things known to regarding
Chants Hermes indicating cerebration
(Athena frowns her reputation guarding)
All things are known to exist here Zeus sings
With gesture large patting his corporation
All exists regarding me Hera rings
Out her voice brassy with exacerbation
Here making a fist says he exists all
(Zeus was a kind of end-all and be-all)


The Fifth in a Quincunx of Emails about
the Angkor Temples

Four represents, among many other values, the cardinal directions. The quinta essentia is transcendent and in Angkor Wat represents the Vishnuloka, the embodiment of Vishnu, the second god of the trimurthi, out of whose navel comes Brahma himself. Here I will compare with Angkor Wat the Bayon, which I have been absorbing by reading Lawrence Palmer Briggs’s The Ancient Khmer Empire and David Snellgrove’s Angkor Before and After: A Cultural History of the Khmers. First, though, a few basics (according to Briggs): “In the center of the present walled city of Angkor Thom is the Bayon, after Angkor Wat the greatest temple of the Angkor group. . . . Unlike all the other great city-temples of the Khmers, it has no surrounding wall or moat but uses Angkor Thom's instead.”


Commaille, a great authority on Khmer architectural decoration: “We notice at once that the Bayon, though of dimensions less vast than its immense neighbor, Angkor Vat, is of a superior conception and that it is here that we must study the genius of the masters of Angkor. Within a restrained space the constructors of the Bayon were able to enclose more marvels than in all the other Cambodian temples combined, and this, we believe, is because they had worked here, not to please the faithful, but to execute a plan of giving to the dwelling of the gods the greatest magnificence possible.” Marchal, Commaille’s successor, says of this temple: “One sees the face-towers surge from all sides”; “their strange smile animates the whole monument, which is more an art of statuary than of architecture.”


Marchal again: “At whatever hour of the day one visits the Bayon, or if it chances to be during the full moon, one feels that the temple belongs to another world, built by individuals absolutely alien to us and whose conceptions are the opposite of ours. One can even believe himself taken back to the legendary days when the god Indra erected a palace for a Naga King, his son, on the model of the one that he himself inhabited in the celestial abode.” Here we shift our subject of inquiry to the more precise nature of this exotic belief, Shaivaite or Vaishnavaite, Brahmanic or Buddhistic. (We are concerned not with the common people of Angkor, nor even the elite class, but with a refined priestly class and their employers, the kings themselves, in this case the most extraordinary of all, Jayavarman VII.)


Having proposed and dismissed Tantric influence, Snellgrove says: “What Jayavarman VII really envisaged was probably the identification of the Devaraja (god-king, i.e., himself) as transformed, from the Bodhisattva at the time of his death into the Victorious Buddha, though Brahmanical opposition to such an idea prevented explicit definition.” The extremity of Jayavarman's theology helps to explain the extremity of the iconoclastic furor that followed him. Snellgrove cites parallels contained in inscriptions by and about his small circle of priestly advisers (who, according to Coedès, were expert on the Vedas), “especially Hrsikesa, a scholar who had arrived from Burma, and whom Jayavarman VII made his chief priest.” How does this all, then, enable us to interpret the Bayon's symbolism?


Briggs: “Although Buddhism absorbed the royal favor, Shivaism did not disappear during the reign of Jayavarman VII.” He offers many examples. “Jayavarman VII, beginning with the reign of his father, had been preceded by a period of Vishnuism.” Jayavarman VII, he observes, often built on formerly Vaishnaivite sites. Drawing again upon Coedès, Snellgrove reminds us that “the royal cities of Indianized Southeast Asia, with their royal temple at the center, were, according to Indian cosmological belief, microcosms of that greater macrocosm, the Universe.” Climbing a sacred, symbolic mountain at the temple’s center, the kings, as gods, communicated daily [or nightly] with the gods of the celestial kingdom. “Buddhist cosmology was not fundamentally different from Hindu” (as we see in the Bayon).


“Mus finds the symbolism of the four faces in the Great Buddhic Miracle, where the Buddha, who is seated in open air, projects himself into all points of space.” Briggs: “These faces represent all directions; the many towers are thought [by Mus] to represent each a religious or political center in a province. [However,] the faces do not correspond to any known representations of Lokesvara [the Bodhisattva] on walls. They are the faces of Jayavarman VII, represented as Lokesvara extending his benevolent protection to all parts of the empire [Coedès identifies the actual places represented].” “Replicas of the so-called Jayabuddhas seem to have been kept in little cells in the Bayon.” Coedès opines:

I am not far from thinking that these little statues of Buddha were portraits of Jayavarman VII, under traits of the Buddha. The Bayon was the sum of the local sanctuaries and polarized the secular and divine, which the Jayabuddhamahanatha materialized in the provinces. If it is true, that the construction of the central massif of the Bayon was a consequence of installing at its center the Buddharaja, the Buddhic substitute of the old devaraja, one can then doubtless represent this as the sum of the local Jayabuddhas whose images were represented in the lower galleries.

In other words, Jayavarman VII had transformed himself into the Buddha.


Says Hesiod I wish I were not part
Of the fifth human generation but
Had been born later or had had the art
To exit ere it came A silver strut
New Oklahoma City bridge approach
For here now is the age of iron Black arrow
Red diamond heavy mushroom cloud reproach
To burgeoning skyline A green wheelbarrow
Back of white truck And never by daytime
Will there be end to man’s hard work and pain
Flatbed rig passing tanker By nighttime
No end to weariness No threat of rain
As sun bursts forth on yellow double-bus
By-flight Anxieties to trouble us


First Tower horizontal bands of grey
Loom above author Windowed sun cloud blue
Of sky Ground floor facade a tinted bay
Reflecting emerald sward and autos too
Copper maroon and beige; A U-Haul truck
In orange and white Black suit magenta tie
Of passerby And as for you not luck
But work will serve to fill your barn Then high
Above as in a children’s book a plane
While down the darkened canyon we proceed
Listen to justice Violence a bane
Even a noble cannot bear that deed
Bank entrance double peacocks double nudes
Bench “Action Bail Bonds” seated two black dudes


In Robert S. Kerr Park a portrait bust
Less than life size before enormous urn
Of pink verbena Oklahoma Trust
Up-street as ABC cab makes right turn
Black secretary past in black on white
“Free Checking” “Sonic Center” “City Place”
A painted pool organic diamond light
The poet moving now at rapid pace
Gold Skirvin Plaza lobby ashtray sand
Sidewalk “TRUST JESUS” spray paint Bug-eyed “PENN
SQUARE” bus past sun-imploded trees A band
Of asters tended by three Indian men
Under-I-40 glimpse of “Wonder Bread”
“Wonderland” (red on white and white on red)


Up Northwest 10th accelerating herd
Of traffic eastward on past Circle K
Past Jack Hwang Tae Kwan Do as mockingbird
Settles on nose of plaster steer at May
Avenue intersection “Shalimar
Boutique” “Glen’s Hik-ry Inn” “Glen’s Steaks” a passing
Wonderbread truck a van a bike a car
As overhead white cumulus are massing
Men will deprive their parents of all rights
Thirstbuster-sipping mom As they grow old
A turquoise-topped black girl in scarlet tights
A shirtless Mexican Nor will “The Bold
Look” (in straw hat and heart-shaped lips) they even
Give back (a hand on hip) what once was given


Yolanda’s Casa Dulce yellow short-
Bed Nissan silver Honda parked out front
Inside a black-Hispanic couple quart
Of Carta Blanca beer a bread loaf blunt
Knife to divide the holy sacrament
A velvet painted Christ at The Last Supper
A swarthy bad hidalgo adamant
In his contempt for gringo trash The upper
Half of both spacious walls Invite your friend
To dinner splendidly adorned with bright
Sombreros trumpets streamers that descend
All bathed in sunset’s gorgeous fading light
But have Our waitress has appeared meanwhile
Nothing to do with enemies Broad smile


Red Kangaroo on Oklahoma red
Dirt When the bottle black forepaws has just
Been opened Golden-brown-eyed ostrich head
Bobbing Or when it’s giving out Red dust
Coating the kangaroos who look depressed
Drink deep a flock of crows But when half full
Descending on their drinking trough Girl dressed
In puffy pink Be sparing Tapir bull
And cow with markings like Bermuda shorts
Rummage their lower middle class back yard
Rock-bordered pool in foreground Black bull snorts
“They’re funky lookin’” says the girl to guard
Give is a good girl Hesiod takes a breath
Grab is a bad one What she gives is death


Don’t let the Poet says any sweet talking
Woman Small primate stench beguile your good
Sense with the fascination Author walking
Quickly past cages of her shape It could
Be on to large primate section your barn
She’s after Sensitive regard maternal
Gesture through bars of discipline/concern
Baby Orang-utan arrives Paternal
Unconcerned/impassive pose white beard
Mother in long reddish-brown-hair shag coat
Looks into author’s notebook What she feared
Another family portrait Should he quote
Regardless of where her or Hesiod? you
Live strip to sow and strip to plow So true


The sleeping Bengal tiger’s (“Range: Malay
Peninsula, Sumatra, India, China”)
Brownish-black stripes on tawny ground obey
The shadow principle A beige eye-liner
Teeny in Norman Tigers tee shirt pants
Too tight regarding next door jaguar down
Cliff “What’s he doin’?” Next door lion frown
First of all get yourself an ox to plow
A woman not to marry but for work
One who can take the oxen out to plow
Then make sure everything you own will work
Lest someone else’s plow you ask to borrow
Request denied no work/no food tomorrow


Even if you plant late there is one thing
Might save you Grey seal feeding exhibition
Female attendant khaki-suited ring
Third finger When they lose their inhibition
The cuckoos make their song first in the oak
Leaves and across the earth make glad the hearts
Of Mortals holds the neck of seal to stroke
His nose with other hand and offer parts
Of fish for him to wolf If at that time
It rains and rains and rains three days and nights
“And how are you today?” she says to mime
His bark his bearded bark his barked delights
To height of ox’s hoof then the late planter
Might come out even with the early planter


“Dong Phuong IGA Viet Super Mart”
Says he ’Tis when the artichoke’s in flower
Fresh bamboo shoots fresh ginger fresh pig’s heart
The clamorous cricket lets go from the bower
With his vociferous singing Frozen squid
Fresh shrimp live crab flat-headed goby fish
’Tis then the suckling pig the calf the kid
Are at their fattest Chopsticks covered dish
Banana blossom pickled cassia leaves
’Tis then beside the stream the wine tastes best
A waning moon the parting season grieves
’Tis then the women sultry and at rest
Fresh toufu squares afloat in clear black tank
Inhale the harvest odors fat and rank


But ’tis then too the men’s strength fails them most
Poisson fumé rice sticks dry coconut
For the star Sirus shrivels up their boast
Their skin from knee to elbow head to butt
Dried mackerel pack rice noodles from Japan
’Tis then one might retreat to shadowed rock
Sound of TV icebox electric fan
For a curd cake or draft from goat’s milk crock
“Reduced (“Gift Shop”): “Phuc Loc Tho (set of 3)”
Ceramic birds a mother/chicks in nest
Buddha with frog on foot Malaysian tea
Set tall pale blue Madonna open breast
Haloed with Christ their lurid sacred hearts
Revealed like disemboweled rabbit parts


Patio Restaurant (“Open Now All Night”)
Radio: “Sooners leading 10-3”
Says he Then sit and drink into the wee
Hours (heart satisfied with lamb) that bright
Libation wine of Biblis Clock in light
Green (left half) Facing Zephyros make three
Libations from a spring which running free
Has no mind in it clock in dark green (right
Half) Red Coors ashtray (Capitol Motel)
“Flamingo” sign through open door
Pink neck above one leg below the other
Coat hanger-shaped Light red Town House Hotel
IT” Cruising prossie face of evil mother


Broadway Extension to Northeast 10th Street
Hackberry (yellow) maple (red) elm (green)
The time when Pleiades runs in retreat
From grim Orion’s bulk to Ocean’s sheen
From middle class trimmed hedge to unmown lawn
Yellow sedan black roof in white carport
Ducking beneath that face from dusk to dawn
To “dark sedan black male” (police report)
When winds begin to gust from all directions
North Lottie “Sudzy’s Laundry” “Fix Your Car”
“And everybody lookin’ for connections”
Magenta slacks black porkpie green tights “Bar”
That is no time to sail the wind-blue water
Drunk Indian says his wife just lost a daughter


Take all the tackle lay it up indoors
“You’re trading on respect Respect is earned
Communicate with people in the stores”
Next stow the wings “and show them what you’ve learned
“WORLDWIDE” Then hang the well-wrought steering oar
Red background yellow continents blue seas
Above the smoky fireplace Spit the boar
Make song and tilt the bottle to the lees
“A flower bank . . . No charge . . . At AFS
‘S’ stands for service” Yellow flowered rug
Receptionist in yellow floral dress
“‘A’ for American” Green coffee mug
Canon NP 400 orange and grey
Grey glass orange lilies opulent display


South Robinson O Perses you great fool
And Southwest 25th Wait for the day
Capitol Hill Methodist Church “SUN SCHOOL
9:30 WOR SHIP” Drag without delay
Your swiftest ship down to the sea and load
It wisely Smoky wisps of charcoal grey
Then profitably ply that wine-dark road
Atop pink pufflets floating at their leisure
As did my father and yours too who owed
His love of sailing to a taste for pleasure
Grey up-street downtown buildings grey enswirled
Who once from Aiolis returned with treasure
Having traversed wide waters in his black
Ship Solitary white-roofed Cadillac


“Hey did ya have a rough day at tha office?”
Mexican waitress to her barstool-sitting
Customer pock-faced toothless Cheyenne Offus
Bar (“Positively”) regular (“No Spitting”)
White (placard: “When I’m Right No One Remembers”)
Indian (“When I’m Wrong No one Forgets”)
Mexican friends all drunk “Like Most Decembers”
“She Told Me Maybe” “I’ve Got No Regrets”
(Song titles) Red-sweat-suited mid-aged wife
Dancing with cowboy hubby (“Only you
Platters on jukebox) Placard: “Coke Gives Life”
“Dial 9-1-1” (My one and only you”)
“Because Shit Happens” (“Three coins in the fountain”)
“Coors” yellow stream cascading down a mountain


For fifty days says he after the turn
Of summer solstice Cattleman’s Café
Before the mid-day sun has ceased to burn
That is the season to board ships and weigh
Anchors “No snow today” waitress in red
Plaid shirt red dickey glasses hanging down
On chain “But then you never know They said
Six or eight inches” Now the sea won’t drown
Your crews “Prime Roast Beef” (menu) “Cowboy’s Cut”
Cowgirl in “Life’s a Bitch and So Am I”
Tee shirt taut bra-strap Levis tight on butt
Unless the shaker of the earth or sky
“When he is two they’ll have to break his legs”
Decide to crack their hulls like chicken eggs


Since with these rests authority for all
Outcomes Red vinyl booth for good or ill
TV on cigarette machine (far wall)
Now breezes can be judged The sea is still
Countertop Spuds Mackenzie icon casting
Its inner light on former generation
Budweiser Clydesdale plaque gas flames outlasting
Both their blue beam on pie shelf’s fenestration
But yet make haste “I got it started then
For sake of earlier return (pink haired
Heavily weathered face pink blouse) “But when
I go to drive it home it had me scared”
Do not await the season of new wine
The autumn rain the winter wind’s hard whine


North Michigan Iron Works and Welding yard
Beige building front (ad: “Coors is Golder”)
Samples attached: burglar-proof window guard
A wrought-iron door steel-bar joist (“Coors is Bolder”)
Black faded letters rust-stained white billboard:
“Playground Equipment Tail Pipes Headache Racks”
Fenced lot with pickup beds an ancient Ford
A wrecking ball a metal rod an axe
Across street: “Joe’s Snowballs Hot Links Cold Pop”
Pink-and-grey asphalt roofed red brick duplex
“Banana Bubblegum Dreamsicle” “STOP”
(In red) “Grape Lemonlime” Graffito: “SEX”
“Piñacolado” “SCHOOL” (in yellow) “Peach
Strawberry Daquiri” Graffito: “TEACH”


Green and cream ’60s Lincoln Continental
Parked outside blood-red Pit Q #1
(North Palomino) College of Dental
Practice (and Northeast 23rd) Pale sun
Come spring there is another sailing season
Hidden behind a winterized cloud cover
Retreat Motel (“Adults Only”) “It’s freezin’”
(Departing floozie to commercial lover)
“Vacancy” “FM Radio TV”
When on the topmost branches of the fig
Yellow-brick ’40s house The “M-O-T”
Of “MOTEL” you make out a leaf as big
As a crow’s foot above an empty lot
Then you may choose to venture forth or not


I for my part don’t like that season much
Special Effects Beauty Salon Red Graves
Endurance Auto Parts For it is such
An awful thing to die among the waves
Florida-style white captain’s house Black chick
Black cocaine dealer parked at Wishing Well
Motel (black Chrysler idling) ’50s brick
Two bedroom house The Westernaire Motel
Yet still in their short-sightedness do men
Risk all their livelihood in hollow ships
State Capitol approach Old Five and Ten
Great Wall Express Siesta Fish and Chips
“Now Is the Future” (sign) “OKC Cares”
Which they must sail to buy and sell their wares


Broadway Extension Freight extension train
(“Santa Fe” “Santa Fe” an empty car
A tanker boxcar car with piggyback)
Northwestward passage Overhead: cement
Cylinder turning (black “Dolese” green
Drop shades) Sedan a pickup custom van
Through underpass marked 13’ 5”
Proceeding on past Hudson drizzling rain
To Walker Red light Workmen pouring tar
On roof of Chico’s Flowers “Mac Attack”
(Ad) “Catch the Wave” A Chinese restaurant
Tom’s Tires (“$10 up”) marquee between
(“Peliculas En Español”) A man
Crossing the street with cage of golden finches


Now he had killed her father in a quarrel
Insurance agency But for all this
She still did not consider him immoral
Janitor afterhours cleaning “Chris,
I need my keys — Virginia” (desktop note)
Thus forced to leave his native land he’d come
To Thebes Computer phone typewriter coat
Rack family photo altar made his home
“Don’t Go Away Mad” (sign) “Just Go Away”
And dwelt there with his modest wedded wife
Insurance Handbook Business Law a grey
Quartz clock “Outgoing Mail” a letter knife
“Virginia — Did I enter something wrong?”
Scotch tape a plastic cup (“Made in Hong Kong”)


Yet there he dwelt without love’s sweet delight
The boss’s office ’40s view of son
In uniform his new bride’s hand clasped tight
All night for now was he permitted none
Of that connubial bliss owed to the groom
Daughter-in-law alone (so off to war)
Memorabilia placed throughout the room
But had to watch her nightly close the door
Until that is he should avenge the death
Policy Information Forms gold phone
Cigar box ashtray spray (“Freshens your Breath”)
Of his wife’s kin and with the killer prone
Then in a raging fire spread all destruction
Behind-desk window view of new construction


You are of age to marry Box: “Please Call”
“Will Call Again” and bring her home with you
“You’re Phone’s Been Ringing!” if at all
When you are thirty Letter: “Postage Due”
Or not too many years short of that mark
“STOP: Is the meter data reading right?”
Nor going much beyond it “20 Park
Drive” tiny Japanese-made reading light
Kitchen That age is ripe for any marriage
Microwave oven Bake/Broil Toaster Black
And Decker Coffeemate a horse and carriage
On whiskey bottle (liquor closet) sack
Of sugar tea bags Margarita Mix
Non-Dairy Coffee Creamer pretzel sticks


Let your wife be Will Rogers World Airport
Full grown four years “Flight 102 now boarding
For Tulsa Memphis” “Mr. Sims report
To Baggage Claims” Then marry without lording
Over her too much Ticket counter crush
Blond frizzy personnel in floppy bows
“Check in Ahead of Time Avoid the Rush”
Chinchilla jacket perfume wide-mesh hose
Marry a maiden “NO UNAUTHORIZED
Her manners “All These Lines Computerized”
(AT & T Card Caller) passing bleach
Blond “NO” (red) “GUNS (black) “NO” (red) “MACE” (black) “NO”
(Red) “KNIVES” (black) marble floor dull neon glow


Light “frizzle” (freezing drizzle) coating wings
American B 1-9-7-4
Pajama-panted woman silver rings
Pilot in shirt-sleeves standing by the door
Smiles at emplaning passenger And marry
Gent in blue blazer one who lives close by
Brown penny loafers Oxford shirt Be chary
Of what will make your neighbors laugh Grey sky
Snow threat blue-clad security patrol
Japanese businessman black overcoat
Last through the causeway Parking lot light pole
Seen over pebbled curtain wall Remote
Horizon up-growth drilling rig beige grass
Rent-A-Car salesgirl salesman making pass


First look her over well W. Reno grey
House OK landscape mural yellow light
On turquoise trees/windmill for as they say
Bob Dumont Porsche there is no better sight
DL Transmissions JOYCO Parts Supply
Than lucky man in consort with good wife
Tops of downtown OKC buildings sky
Behind them cloudless So for all one’s life
“Governor Bellmon says ‘you’re doing fine’
No “‘Oklahoma’” there’s no sight more dismal
Corroded bus frame wino drinking wine
From jug inside it nothing more abysmal
Than henpecked man declining through his days
Blue rusted van “Dump Dirt Here” “CAUTION PAYS”


Don: “We sell janitor supplies” (red tie
Red button-belted pants pink patterned shirt)
No matter he be strong she’ll burn him dry
“Work half the state We specialize in dirt”
“PITCH IN” and give him to a green old age
“Where we don’t go there’s Mistletoe — Be-Mac
For a large order” Author turning page
“Any more questions? Then let’s go on back
26,000 square-foot warehouse here”
Tan Scotch-Rate Ultra High Speed Buffer Pads
Mobiltuff Liners (B) 1000 Clear
1-doz. Rayon Mop Heads Handle Brads
RUF FACE STRIP WASH — For Use on Floors and Walls
“This is a Business Phone — No Private Calls”


Cathedral-ceilinged living room Jan’s mom
Mickey Mouse blue-starred shirt pink pants headband
Recently vacuumed carpet Jan as pom
Pom girl in photo frame blond hair skin tanned
“Back then I was the perfect corporate wife”
Never wade through the ripples of a river
“But I have found you have to live your life
The way you want” Kachina doll with quiver
Until you’ve looked into its lovely waters
“Now I do paintings and I work with clay . . .
Back then you put your husband and your daughters
First” “First Prize Watercolors on Display”
“I can be anything I want to now”
And washed your hands and made a holy vow


For if Kirkpatrick Museum Omniplex
Unwashed of wickedness unwashed of hands
“Native Americans” unwashed of sex
“Please sign our register” “These Ancient Lands”
One wades a river “Trina Bennefield
Arca CA” “Jim Bell and family
Little Rock AR” Then the gods who wield
Their power over us “Tranh Nguyen/Duong Chi
Tulsa OK” are outraged and decree
Him future pain Ron Anderson’s “Ghost Dance”
“Sioux Headdress — Early 19th Century”
Crow squaw on paint (full size) in beaded pants
Mural in stained glass long-horned steer teepee
Acrylic silver cloud red leafless tree


Never at festivals State Art Collections
With shining iron cut off from the fire-branch
Photography display (“Southwest Reflections”)
Dry wood from green (dilapidated ranch)
African Art Japanese Woodblock Prints
(Hiroshi Utamaro Hasui)
Afro-America in sepia tints
Air Space Museum Korean Gallery
Nor the wine-ladle place atop the bowl
Science exhibits: Echo Tube Earthquakes
When cups are held aloft Oil Gas and Coal
“Yell at Me” “Trace Your Hand” “Please Touch” “What Makes
The Sky Blue?” Pinhole Optics Jingle Jars
This brings accursed bad luck Exploding Stars


Farewell to her A semi rig half blue
That man is fortunate and blessed who
Half white proceeding south I-35
Knowing all this yet works from 9 to 5
Farewell to the great shepherd of sky-flock
Who watching both the bird signs and the clock
Farewell to her blue ether and grey eyes
Respects what man and heaven sanctifies
Her dolphins and her crocus-colored dress
Queen of vibrating sound and muse of stress
Farewell to Oklahoma City now
Her thunderous purple aegis golden prow
Observe the Days both after and before
Throw down the holy grain on rounded floor


(adapted from Francis Fergusson,
“The Shield of Achilleus”)

Achilleus’ shield is a mirror of a new and final stage of consciousness attained by the hero. If we consider the comprehensive meaning of the Iliad, we may see the poem as a total representation of human life and the growth of human awareness. The first is embodied in the image of the siege, the second in the character of Achilleus.

The siege is the first narrative model of our literary tradition. It is spatially static, and its structure can be compared to a circle. Troy, its thousand-year-old walls besieged by external forces, is the encircled place. Its conquest is to be its destruction. The events prior to the conflict are exceedingly remote; we are locked in a present that absorbs and engulfs us.

The Trojan War spans the lifetime of mankind, including its prehistory. The moment the story begins, symbolically one enters human history, and thus the consciousness of one’s condition. Homer depicts civilization’s history from its origin to the point at which he himself has arrived — only yesterday in relation to today.

The real end, the conquest of Troy, is not described, because it represents the end of history, which is yet to be experienced.


Several centuries after the Iliad the Homeric note is sounded in Oedipus Rex. In Sophocles’ tragedy the action leads beyond mere recognition of guilt to its exemplary punishment. For Sophocles, to become conscious means to recognize one’s guilt — a conclusion like that of the Old Testament. Homer’s view is quite different.

For him, becoming conscious means recognizing not one’s guilt but one’s humanity. The concepts of hubris, common to the Book of Genesis and Greek tragedy alike, would have been incomprehensible to Homer: the strife between men and gods has neither moral nor metaphysical connotations; one has only to be beautiful to be godlike.

Achilles, having lost Breseis, quits the battle and places himself outside life. When Odysseus and Aias come to him as emissaries of Agamemnon, they do not find a wrathful, overwrought man but a gracious host, who invites them to sit down, serves them supper and then courteously rejects their entreaties.

Hektor is analogous to Achilleus. The birth of consciousness occurs in the besieged as well as in the besieger.


Hektor too knows that he must die before Troy is conquered, and he too resolves to oppose the mechanism. But although Achilleus chooses to abstain from the action, Hector, due to his contrary position, seeks to reverse it.

After killing Patroklos, Hektor puts on the armor that Achilleus lent his friend, and again flies to the battlefield. Hektor becomes Achilleus. Now that he wears Achilleus’ armor, the similarity between their destinies is manifest.

In this exchange of roles, as at the end of the Iliad, the two men recognize themselves as mirror images of each other; their victory does not depend on themselves, for it is inscribed in the book of destiny. This is the significance of Achilleus’ shield. As an image of the hero’s consciousness, it reflects the cosmos while representing it.

Only to the shield, not to Achilleus’ other arms, does Homer devote meticulous attention. A weapon of defense, not of attack, it is interposed between Achilleus and the world, which it reflects even as it protects him from it. Round in shape, encircled by a representation of the Ocean River, it contains sun, moon and all the constellations.


Suryavarman II enters heaven. Life is a curious affair: Vishnu descends to accompany him. Interviews on a trip around the world. Having entered the precinct of Angkor Wat. More interviews conducted in Thailand and the Philippines. We are now traversing the causeway from mainland to island. Along with studies of Europe, the USA, Korea, various Southeast Asian countries: Over the ocean-symbolizing moat that surrounds the temple. Myanmar, Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.

We pause at an observation porch, where the five-headed naga (a serpentine god of the waters) gazes out over the moat. (The kala is a jawless lion imported from China.) The sun arisen. (The makara, a hybrid of crocodile, fish, bird, tapir and elephant, is also present.) The skies are pearly grey, faintly tinged with rose and yellow. (The apsarases are performing their divine dances.) Through the central portal leading to the temple enclosure, we enter a second long passageway. (The devatas, female divinities appear.) Which returns us to land. (The devarapalas, youthful divinities are guarding doorways.) This time to another world. (The Garudas poised, available for transport.)


To enter the next portal we must mount six stone steps. Excelling suggests the more important but ambiguous position of China. Then another four. For who is excelling whom? The Vishnuloka is framed by the narrow entranceway. In time China’s rise will lead to decline. One step leads us over the lintel, another back down. Is China excelling itself? Then up two steps and down two. Are others excelling China? Up two more and down two. From Shanghai to Congqing, Chengdu, Kunming, Guangzhou.

We descend five steps and emerge onto the esplanade leading to the inner temple. For Zhou Da-guan, in 1296 a Chinese commercial attaché, the trade between Angkor and his native country is a subject about which he speaks with authority. Again we must travel a great distance, from this second entrance portal to the inner temple. Like Third World countries today vis-à-vis developed countries. Passing between the two so-called “libraries.” There must have been a serious trade imbalance between the two realms. We pause at another porch. Since Chinese merchants brought in a virtual cornucopia of fine manufactured goods. On either side of the causeway flare the parrot-like faces of two nagas.


This is the only topographic book aside from Each (which treats France, Germany and Italy from memory) that was not written in situ. We turn about to regard Vishnu’s portal. Like the Japanese professor who visited Siem Reap. To either side, in the near ground, we consider the “libraries” (likely centers of fire ritual rather than book repositories). Only to rediscover, upon his return, in a Tokyo library, a 17th century map of Angkor Wat. We turn about again to face the great temple itself.

MM’s treatment of Japan relies upon books. Monsoon clouds have scumbled the skies, but Suryavarman’s brilliance remains undiminished, his seat of power intact. Among them Ovid’s Metamorphoses, one of the four hypertexts employed in APHRODITE. As we continue our approach we come upon a second pair of porches bordered with the bodies of serpents, their heads raised. The 17th century Japanese map had been drawn by a Buddhist pilgrim, who supposed that he had already reached India. We look out over a small pond filled with languid lotus blossoms. Alhough it names nothing Cambodian, its scheme is the first surviving illustration of Angkor Wat.


At the end of the esplanade two more nagas rise before us, two others facing in a direction perpendicular to the first two. Summertime Norway and Sweden, Finland and Denmark are the subjects of In. We must mount 20 more stairs (alongside which stand four of the mythical lion-beasts) to reach the temple entrance. Elephants would only have been for the king and the top tier of the Angkor hierarchy, or for military commanders. Which depicts Scandinavia in its most pastoral aspect.

Once we have done so, the platform rises by two steps, then by another three. Each self-contained Nordic country is distinct from its Scandinavian neighbor and also (except for Denmark) from its more distant continental European neighbors. Elephants can travel no more than fifteen miles a day. We reach another naga porch and step down onto yet another platform, which terminates in two more pairs of mythical lion-beasts. They require constant watering along the route. We turn about to regard Vishnu’s diminishing entranceway. Not only for drinking but also for bathing. The region’s arctic, wintertime aspect is only hinted at, its lugubrious temperament deemphasized.


With steps descending to their lower surfaces, we attend to the chanting of sutras, which continues in the echoing space of the cruciform pavilion. A rare, 17th century French visitor observed: As we mount many more steps to cross another lintel. “Angkor Wat is renowned among the heathen of five or six Southeast Asian kingdoms.” And proceed upward: twenty-four steps in all. “As Rome among the Christians.” Then down two steps. Divine begins in Rome, where its “hypertext” is Dante’s Inferno.

Here we turn right or southward to negotiate a series of high lintels. “The kings of neighboring countries have gone on pilgrimages even in times of war.” Searching for entrance into the central court with its steep stairways to Vishnu’s central spire and the holy of holies therein. It continues, in Siena, Bologna and Ferrara, where its “hypertext” is the Purgatorio. “The King of Thailand sends his respectful emissaries each year.” In Venice, Verona and Florence, where its “hypertext” is the Paradiso. At last we enter the courtyard, at the corner of the quincunx. Divine ends with a return to Rome. But author, unlike hypertextual Dante, avoids the dangerous steps to the summit.


Or represents Cambodia’s traditional enemy, Thailand, an alternative to Indianized Myanmar (farther to the West) and Sinicized Vietnam (to the East). We descend three steps and up four, then down three more to enter Preah Pean, the cruciform gallery, now bare but formerly highly accoutered. The book also connects Egypt with Italy, Divine with Renewed. Erstwhile repository of The Thousand Buddhas, its four quadrants date from the middle period, when the prestige of Angkor spread across Asia.

In time, Roveda continues, the faithful erected here a great number of Buddhist statues in stone, wood or metal. The ancient Khmer king is known to have symbolically centralized himself in the temple, where his queen resided with him, and to have constructed chambers at the four most distant points for his concubines. The majority of Angkor Wat’s 41 inscriptions from the middle period are inscribed on Preah Pean’s stone pillars, which would earlier have been brightly painted. Into all four areas adjacent arms of the cross have been sunk ablutionary tanks. In Bangkok and on each of Or’s four outings, to the Isaan, the Northwest, Ayutthaya, the southern provinces, Aphrodite is subdued.


The multitudinous monuments of ancient Egypt stretch the length of the Nile. Again we turn about to face the East. Angkor’s 77 square kilometers alone rival their profusion. The tip of the central spire of the quincunx rises above the entrance portal. Even surpassing them in grandeur. The porch of the temple, though, is almost domestic in scale. Within 500 years Khmer art accomplished what for Egyptian art has required 5000. Only by lateral scanning does one gain a view of the larger portico.

We cross a platform, then up three steps to the entrance. Renewed is tripartite. And then up three more. Each part has an interwoven text: Next down another three. Apollonius’ Argonautica, Vergil’s Eclogues, the Koran. Up four more and down another three. As the second “hypertextual” book in APHRODITE. We have reached the aisles leading to southern and northern corridors. It imitates Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene. Up another stair and on into the sanctum. Books I-II (Alexandria); III-IV (the Nile); V-VI (Cairo). Then up twelve more steps to a view of two pools surrounded by porticos. Plus the six never written books that Spenser epitomized in his Mutabilitie Cantos.


Four stairways of thirty-five steps lead to this ultimate platform, which symbolizes the highest peak of Mount Meru. The Indic polities of mainland and insular Southeast Asia, says anthropologist Clifford Geertz. At each turn we forego ascent. Were “theater” states. To continue instead our circumambulation of an inner court bounded by four lesser spires. The spectacular cremations, processions and temple dedications were not meant to serve political ends but were instead seen as ends in themselves.

On the ground floor, carved to the side of exit portals, two pairs of apsarases beckon. They were quite simply what the state was for. In one corner stand a dozen, arrayed in bas relief, figures of celestial power rather than worldly allure. Court ceremonialism drove court politics. High above they are answered by another dozen angels. And mass ritual was not a device to shore up the state, but the state instead a device for the enactment of mass ritual. One begins to understand: the apsarases are offering a prospect of either difficult ascent, precipitous tumble, or both. Power served pomp, Geertz says in conclusion, not pomp, power. Likewise MM’s Happening is an end in itself, an epic of India.


Author, having experienced, on a much earlier visit, such precipitous ascent and fearful descent, declines the present opportunity for disaster. In Possibly everything is possible. “The two most renowned monsoon-forest civilizations in history were the Classic Khmer and the Classic Mayan.” The new world returns to the old. The stairs at any rate do not permit the complete scaling of the mountain. Each new world has its old world counterpart. For high above them arises the pineapple cone of the central spire.

“Scholars and travelers are suitably impressed by the Classic Mayan cities of Mexico and Guatemala.” One moves outside the space for more extensive consideration. “Yet one could fit ten Tikals or ten Calakmuls within the bounds of Angkor.” Many geographical books in the Sentence have their continuation in Life. One pauses in the north to regard Shiva’s tower. We begin with a flight from Miami to Manaus. Then exits through a portal and peers down into the northern moat. Possibly surveys South America, by boat, bus and plane. Reenters the surrounding space. Before touring Iberia. And confronts yet another imposing stair midway between the temple’s northeast and northwest corners.


Hera’s Zeus and the creator god of the Indic trimurthi underlie All. We move onward toward the northwest tower to view from beneath it the central spire of Vishnu. But this juncture of HERA and APHRODITE is dominated by the great goddesses of hearth and marriage. Once more, the apsarases, in pairs, greet the pilgrim as he exits, a dozen to either side of the entrance/exit portal. Extravagant beauty, and sexuality, and love, but also something more commanding, regal and permanent.

The landscapes of eastern Arizona provide the immediate subject. Though there is no evidence identifying the architects of the temple. The god of four arms and four faces, whose vehicle is a goose, the spirit. It is likely that Divakarapandita, the servant reported to have been in Suryavarman’s service. Is the supreme creator god. Who came from a long illustrious line of Brahmans. Ming dynasty landscape painting is the book’s “subtext.” Contributed to its conception and planning. Through a portal different from the one through which we had entered we exit. Among its practitioners are the great literati painters Shen Zhou and Wen Zheng-ming along with many professional artists.


Regarding takes as its difficult subject the grandiose landscapes of New Mexico, the most preposterously beautiful in the world. Author has resituated himself on the nearest naga porch at the end of the eastward-directed entranceway. As its “subtext” it takes Southern Sung painting. The skies have lightened considerably. In particular, the monumental hanging scrolls of Fan Kuan, Guo Xi and Li Tang. Above the central tower, the Vishnuloka, four white birds flutter together across the blue interstices.

Divakarapandita had long and loyally served the previous two monarchs, Jayavarman VI and Dharanindravarman I. Here Vishnu is the regnant divinity, in his ten earthly avatars. Light grey is emerging, pierced by pale blue openings high overhead. His vehicle is Garuda, his consort, Lakshmi, the popular goddess of happiness. The building of the temple commenced upon Suryavarman’s accession to the throne. Just as the late Brahma corresponds to the uncharismatic Zeus, so Vishnu to Homer’s more fundamental “earth shaker” Poseidon, the god of tumultuous land and prehistoric ocean responsible for these vistas. He supervised its construction over the subsequent thirty years.


From this perspective only one of the five spires is visible. Though the later Brahma is supreme and the constant Vishnu serene (as maintainer of the creation). From the courtyard in which author sits a coconut palm rises above a wall. It is Shiva (cp. Hades) who excites the most fervid faith. The Khmers, from the early centuries of the Christian era, were familiar with the Hindu as well as the Buddhist faiths. As he dances the destruction of the universe in his reincarnation of the more primitive Rudra.

At its base a mythical lion-bird, carved in stone, shrieks toward eternity. The landscapes of Oklahoma are difficult to grasp as they form and disappear before one’s eyes. By Ankorean times Hindu religious belief had focused on the concept of a trinity compounded of the three: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The deconstructive, literati painters of the Yuan provide the “subtext”: Who fulfill their three cosmic functions. Zhao Meng-fu, Wu Zhen and Ni Zan. Of creation, conservation and dissolution. Exists is the last of a trilogy that reads, backwards, All Regarding Exists, or, forwards, the last of three books about Oklahoma that include Engendering and the present book, Her.


Neither Shakti nor Hera is dominant at Angkor. Hinduism expressed a monistic tendency in its Shiva and Vishnu cults. Where the matrix is the cosmos itself. Which emphasize God’s transcendence and immanence. In the Greek pantheon Her represents at once Athena (the daughter of the mind of Zeus), Hera (his sister/consort) and Hermes. “Here then,” says Claude Ferrère, “are those temples that had seemed like visions.” The sky freed of birds, Brahma arises, some say, above all the other gods.

“Here, the foundations, the plinths, the extraordinary domes resembling multi-ringed tiaras.” Against a cottony grey sky, a dove alights atop the temple. “All that is missing is the tropical forest, sprawling beneath an Asian sky.” In the latter sect greater emphasis is laid upon the devotional aspect or bakhti, the relinquishment of the self to God. Who, in India symbolizes Shakti. “From which, one moment, torrents pour, bringing floods but not relief.” And which alone is the source of our salvation. A slender rod extends above the spire. “From which, the next moment, a pitiless sun beats down.” To attract and dissipate the divine force of lightning. “Bringing to mankind sunstroke and eventual death.”


Between Her and Realization, almost as an interlude of fecundation, Engendering embraces Confucius and Lao-zi. In the northeastern sky the sun emerges above the tower of Shiva. Author interweaves Lun Yu and Dao de Jing with in situ accounts of Norman Oklahoma’s town and gown. By the 10th century the worship of Vishnu resolved into three schools: The “gown” in conjunction with the great teacher. Pancharatra, Bhagavata and Satvata. “Town,” with the philosopher.

It reads as a white disc, beaming through three layers of cloud. Engendering is itself a universal principle: By far the most popular of these was the Pancharatra. From the young blade of grass to the most recently discovered universe. A doctrine requiring the worship of Vasudeva (Vishnu). In between it celebrates the student’s emergence from ignorance. As the highest (para-Vasudeva). The emergence of author’s two children into maturity. Her Engendering Realization, one in a trilogy of trilogies, is linked in the retrograde reading of the Sentence, to All Regarding Exists and Magic Every Second. The source from whom four forms (vyuha) successively emanate and expand.


Realization records a spiritual impulse. A dozen birds circulate past the tower, between author and god, as though in a gesture of bahkti. Its travels in three directions suggest the system of arteries in the ancient Angkor atlas. The first to be manifested is Vishnu-Vasudeva, followed by his brother Samkarshana (Balarama), his son Pradyumna, and his grandson Anirudda. From Angkor to Kompong Thorn (within the region); to Wat Phu (in present-day Laos); to Phimai (in Thailand).

This takes place in a sequence where each emanation originates from the anterior, “like a flame proceeding from The Battle of Kurukshetra in the Mahabharata, and from it another flame.” Realization stands beneath SOL and so partakes of its fire. In other terms, the vyuha are distinct manifestations of the undifferentiated reality of para-Vasudeva, and each has its own characteristics or gunas. Of Surya, Vishnu and Krishna, the last of whose exploits are recounted in part III. “We have scarcely begun a study of the system of highways that tied the empire together, though ironically it was André Malraux who had set out to undertake one, before his arrest in 1924 on looting charges.”


The sons of darkness. There may or may not be a God. The Kauravas. Or gods. Meet the sons of light. Yet there is something ennobling. The Pandavas. About our search for the divine. In The Battle of Kurukshetra. And also something humanizing. The final episode of the great epic. Which is reflected in each path people have discovered to send us to deeper levels of truth. This is the subject of the first of the large panels; we encounter it as we turn right for our counterclockwise circumambulation.

Magic is based upon the Egyptian Book of the Dead. At the panel’s center Krishna tells Arjuna that his dharma is to fight: And the Corpus Hermeticum. “He whose mind is free from ill will.” Some seek transcendence in meditation or prayer. “Even if he kills these warriors.” Others in service to their fellow human beings. “He kills them not and is free.” Still others in the practice of art. Only deeds done without attachment to consequences. Another way is through science. And through devotion. Within every scientific discipline. To God and trust in his grace. There are those driven by a passion. Can lead to the realization of Brahman. To know the essential truth of their subject.


If they are mathematicians, they want to know what numbers are. The two halves of the panel meet in the middle. Or what kind of truth mathematics describes. Leading some to assert that the bas relief should be read from right to left. If they are biologists, they want to know what life is, and how it started. Others insist on the counterclockwise motion. If they are physicists, they want to know about space and time. Perhaps we should respect both motions, which join the narratives at the center.

To know what brought the work into existence. On a profane level. Every reflects the Bible’s Old and New Testaments. The Battle’s final event may allude to King Suryavarman being guided by Krishna to fight the Khmers’ enemies. These questions are the hardest to answer and progress is seldom direct. But the ideology of sacrifice, also here epitomized. Only a few scientists have the patience for this work. Dictates that both the action and its results be offered to God. Which is the riskiest kind but the most rewarding. The real agent with regard to any action. When someone answers a question about the foundations of a subject, it can change everything that we know about it.


At the end of the first two large panels. A second way to put fermions into the string. In the southwest corner pavilion. Was invented by Andrei Neveu and John Schwarz. There occurs, above a window, the image of Shiva in the Pine Forest. Like Pierre Raymon’s version of the theory, their version had no tachyons and lived in a world with nine spatial dimensions. Shiva plays the lecher to stimulate slander. Neveu and Schwartz also found that they could set the superstrings to interact with one another.

Thereby acquiring tapas and transference of the karma. Their calculations yielded formulas that were consistent with the principles of quantum mechanics and special relativity. Meanwhile, Second imitates Iliad, Odyssey and the final episode of Vergil’s life. So there was one puzzle left. Opposite is the figure of Ravanna shaking Mount Kailasha, as Shiva, with his large toe, presses the mountain down upon him. How could the new supersymmetric theory be a theory of the strong interactions, if it contained massless particles? The Puranas add the cosmogony, cosmology and cosmography of the triple universe: Earth, Ocean, Sky-Paradise, where men, the asuras and the gods dwell.


In fact there do exist bosons with no mass. Is science potentially epic? One is the photon. Is epic potentially sacred? Each challenges the limits of epic. Can the history of a political dynasty be sacred? A photon never sits still and always travels at the speed of light, so it has energy but no mass. Georges Coedès observed that Panel 2 has a religious character, because the sacred fire (vrah vlen) is at its center. Likewise the graviton, the hypothetical particle associated with gravitational waves.

We have turned the corner and entered into the realm of Yama, who represents both a god of this world and a god of the next. Neveu and another French physicist, Joël Scherk, had found that the superstring has states of vibrations corresponding to gauge bosons, including the photon. Mannikka notes. This was a step in the right direction. That here for the first time images of “a real king and his men of rank.” Two years later Scherk and Schwarz took an even bigger step. “Were sculpted onto temple walls.” They found that some of the massless particles predicted by the theory could actually be gravitons. “Which had been reserved traditionally for the gods and their main manifestations.”


Force and motion are unified in a way impossible in a theory of particles as points. “The reliefs on the eastern section of the southern wall.” In a particle theory you can freely add all kinds of forces. “Represent the 37 heavens and the 32 hells derived from Indian tradition.” Revolution adapts Menippean satire to the epic. The hells, in the lower registers, as in Dante. Nothing prevents a proliferation of constants describing the workings of each force. Are pictured with greater detail than the heavens.

This unification has a simple consequence, to wit: Each hell is identified by a Vedic inscription. In string theory, there can be only two fundamental constants. “The Vedic hymns tell of endless happiness to be found in heaven in the company of gods and of the deep unhappiness in the pit where sinners are thrown.” One, called the string tension, describes how much energy is contained per unit length of string; the other, called the string coupling constant, is a number denoting the probability of a string breaking into two strings. Have we moved into a moral realm or, as in the fantastic, dramatic representation of Suryavarman (see the preceding panel), into a mythic dimension?


Says the Bhagavata Purana: All other constants in physics must be related to the string tension and string coupling constant. “In the beginning of the world.” A probability that gives rise to a force. “The gods (devas) and demons (asuras) were engaged in a 1000-year battle to secure amrita.” All others must be related to these two numbers. “An elixir that would render them immortal and incorruptible.” Actually, however, the string coupling constant is not a free constant but a physical degree of freedom.

In the color scheme of the Sentence SOLUNA is white but A is purple. “When they could not achieve their goal, they asked Vishnu to help.” It depends upon the solution of the theory. “He ordered them to work together.” So rather than a parameter of the laws, it enables solutions. “They commenced churning the ocean of milk.” We can say that the probability of a string breaking and joining. “With Mount Mandara as the pivot and the five-headed naga Vasuki as the rope.” Is fixed not by theory but by the string’s environment. “When the mountain began to sink.” In other words by the multidimensional world that it lives in. “Vishnu anchored it to his avatar the tortoise.”


According to Sheldon Glashow, “The superstring physicists have not yet shown that their theory works. On this second day, the sun has momentarily risen above the trees and broken through the clouds. They cannot demonstrate that the standard theory is a logical outcome of M theory. As a small troupe of monkeys passes beyond the precinct of the temple. They cannot even be sure that their formalism includes such things as protons and electrons. Vishnu is no longer illuminated by the light.

Nor have they yet made a single experimental prediction. In the color scheme of the Sentence Need is blue. This 16th century panel represents Vishnu defeating the asuras. Worst of all, superstring theory does not follow as a logical consequence of any appealing set of hypotheses about nature. Thought to derive from the Harivamsa. Why do string theorists insist that space has 9 or 10 or 11 dimensions? In Panel 6, on the northern wall Vishnu (as he had in “The Battle of Kurukshetra”) will appear in the guise of Krishna. Simply because it doesn’t make sense in any other kind of space. Despite Cambodia having joined the Theravada community, it did not forget its Brahmanic culture.


In Panel 6 Krishna appears seven times through the course of a bas relief executed rather crudely during the 16th century. The meta-theory should select which version of string theory was realized physically. Some say from designs possibly left on the 12th century walls. Since it represented the only unified theory, many expected that the many variants would prove unstable and that the one stable theory would explain the standard model constants. We are in the midst of three consecutive battle scenes.

In the color scheme of the Sentence U is green. What does so much detailed battle imagery signify? It occurred to me that there was another possibility: For certain, a conflictive view of reality. That all string theories were equally valid. Likely the preferred thematics of a militaristic empire. This would imply a revision of our expectations about physics. Though perhaps a view too of the cosmic battle of forces at the heart of reality. Because it would make the properties of the elementary particles contingent. Here a variety of gods is represented, including Shiva at the western end. Determined not by laws but by one of an infinite number of solutions to the fundamental theory.


Battle is unending, and accordingly in Panel 7 the 21 devas of the Hindu pantheon are shown in armed conflict with asuras. The debate about how science is to confront the newly vast string landscape seems to me to come down to three possibilities: The representation of the gods resembles the classic Greek representation of the twelve Olympians. (1) String theory is right, and the random multiverse is right, and so to accommodate them we must change the rules that govern how it is that science works.

Unlike Zeus and his company, however, each Brahmanic god has his own animal mount. (2) Some way will eventually be found to deduce genuine, unique and testable predictions from string theory. Each engaging in combat with a demon. (3) String theory is not the right theory of nature. As in other panels Vishnu, pictured here at the center, is preeminent, as befits a temple devoted to him. Nature is best described by another theory, yet to be discovered or accepted. It was constructed by an earthly ruler who, after death, was renamed Paravishnuloka. One which leads to genuine predictions. In the color scheme of the Sentence Light is yellow. Which experiments will eventually confirm.


Vishnu and Zeus represent paternalistic systems that center upon a male god. We have regrettably reached the conclusion that string theory has made no new, precise, and (importantly) falsifiable predictions. The story of Ramayana distributes our attention equally between Sita and Rama. But still, it makes some startling assertions about the world. In the color scheme of the Sentence O is orange. (It might be noted that the Sentence balances male and female, the latter within the former.)

Could an experiment one day reveal evidence for any of these features? Like the Odyssey, which complements and completes the Iliad, the Ramayana complements and completes the Mahabharata. Even if there are not predictions of the kind that could kill or confirm theory. The Battle of Lanka, like the battle of Odyssey 23, epitomizes the work of its supposed author. Might we see evidence of a feature that is central to string theory? Roveda calls it “one of the most savage of Hindu literature.” The most obvious novelty is the strings themselves. Likewise Odysseus’ slaughter of the suitors is appropriately brutal. If we could probe the string scale, there would be no problem in seeing abundant evidence for string theory, if it is true.


To summarize: Just as the Battle of Kurukshetra does not individuate the warriors that we know from the Mahabharata. On the basis of current results. So The Battle of Lanka is not subdivided by any pseudo-registers. String theory may or may not solve the problem of quantum gravity. And the primary figures of both armies. In the color scheme of the Sentence Sleep is red. Barely emerge from the mass of warriors. The evidence is mixed. Our viewing of Lanka is accompanied by polyphonic voices.

To a certain approximation string theory seems consistently to unify quantum theory with gravity and to give sensible, and finite, answers. Of Chinese-, French- and Cambodian-speaking guides. But it is hard to decide if this also holds for the whole theory. Not only is Angkor Wat the epitome of ancient Khmer culture. There is, moreover, the ever present problem that string theory is not background independent. Like Homer and Hesiod’s epics. And even within this limitation. Those of Vyasa and Valmiki, or so it appears to us. That it cannot so far describe anything other than static backgrounds. Also represent a universal expression. Where the geometry does not evolve in time.