Numbers and words and nuclear waste

“And when all bodies meet,

In Lethe to be drowned,

Then only numbers sweet

With endless life are crowned”. (Herrick after Creeley)

Who will worship numbers and words after the extinction of mankind? Is there a possibility that numbers and words have an existence separated from mankind? By words – spoken and written words – gods and humans are binded together. When mankind is killed, nobody will be there to pay attention to the gods. Now, Herrick separates – delimites – numbers from their connection with mankind. This is another way of saying, that numbers and words are a delicate matter: This is another way of saying, that numbers and words demand attention. They have to be set up carefully. Because – as Herrick defines -, they may have a long existence: An existence which survives – like nuclear waste – those who set them into being. They have to be set up carefully, they have to be written and read carefully, because the existence of others, like the existence of gods or of future generations, depends on their setting. So words and numbers have a something in common with nuclear energy and nuclear waste. So words, numbers – as Herrick defines – demand our attention and our compassion.

Nils Röller at Sanskriti Kendra/New Delhi

Leave a Reply