'Stop it with all the damn metaphors' Kirk to 'Bones' McCoy in irritated exasperation
Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)
Science writing has held a peculiar interest for me this week, given my Trekkie credentials. I've seen the new Star Trek movie twice and have contemplated buying the original 'Wrath of Khan' to compare the change in writing and production styles. However for the purposes of these notes, the quote above is the perfect introduction to the Birkbeck Science and Writing Symposium, 21 May 2013.
A rare group of people – two poets, a playwright, an astronomer, a science/history/cultural academic, two actors and a cartoonist - were brought together not just to discuss the way they communicate their ideas but to actually demonstrate and showcase their skills. I’m not going to simply narrate what each person said but try to highlight themes. What I must say is, so often at academic symposia the emphasis is on the presentation of paper after paper with little or no presenter animation. No matter how interesting the topic, my eyes glaze over eventually but not here, not this time, we were off; starting with the Big Bang. Before I come on to the themes, I want to dwell a little on the poets and their poetry.
It has been said that ‘information is the lifeblood of law and the legal profession’. And to this I would like to add, law firms continue to be the flesh and muscle of the body of knowledge which they make available to clients; good lawyers turn that information into business knowhow. Anatomical analogies are a personal favourite and perhaps to stretch this one, everyone is trying to extract a pound of flesh from the legal corpus as a whole. From clients expecting discounts, lawyers squeezing suppliers and suppliers driving hard bargains, everyone is at it.
Take this pain of loss away How can such a solid heart thudding Maintain such a pounding, seemingly Beating faster and intense to make Blood whir and head ache, fit to burst Take this empty hollowness away And fill the space of phantom heart With quiet. Not disquiet of red dark But the tranquility of blue and green Blurring eyes dart, panic, too much Take this ceaseless sickness away And ease the sealike turmoil to lend Calmness. Allow distressed breath To fade, send conscious signals Making sleep come and pain recede Nothing will take this loss away To lose it now would seem loss of me But familiar discomfort of missing limb Still tortures as fresh now as then Still caged within, empty, pounding pain.