Anything and everyone is life when two
Radios tune to the news on different stations while
A bass recorder pulses familiar sequences of sound waves,
An old sad sweet song, live. A computer
On stage listens to it all and does a print-out
Of it in Fortran, after a microsecond lag, and adds its own
Noise. The print-out piles up in folds
On the stage, in a not quite random way.
“Plaisir d’Amour” was the song.

Balls of cement shaped by a Vassar
Person, “majored in art at Vassar,”
Each must weigh a hundred pounds, fill a gallery.
They are enough alike to be perhaps
The look of what? The weight the person was
When she first was no longer a child—
Her planet lifeless after the Bomb—an anorexic image.
The hideous and ridiculous are obsessed
By the beautiful which they replace.

It is an age we may not survive.
The sciences know. We do believe in art
But ask the computer to hear and preserve our cry.
O computer, hear and preserve our cry.
Mortem mihi cur consciscerem
Causa non visa est, cur optarem multae causae.
Vetus est enim, “ubi non sis qui fueris,
Non esse cur velis vivere.” Or, in English:
We are no longer what we were.

This Issue

January 24, 1980