Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Chemistry of Elements and the Heart

When you think of chemistry, you often find yourself yanked back into the past, the eleventh grade past, where in a single semester, you were enrolled in an introduction to chemistry class and your first official class in creative writing.

As you review such things, you were terrible at both.  Chemistry was presented to you as a study of matter, the properties of matter, and ways in which various forms of matter interact.  Creative writing meant  the depiction of momentous dramatic ideas.

It was the momentous part of the dramatic ideas that got you.  Much of your reading up to that time had been momentous in scope.  The Russians.  The French.  The opening of the American West.  The Fur Trade.  The French-Indian Wars.  Smile when you say that, pardner.  As in The Virginian.

"What I don't understand," a baffled high school counsellor told you, "is how you can get such awful grades in chemistry and such superior ones in physics.  I'm thinking you might do well as a mechanic."

You remember the dive your stomach took.  "What about the grades in creative writing and composition?"

"Well,"  she considered.  "There is that.  Maybe you'd be happy at a trade school.  Running a lineotype.  Possibly running presses.  I can't say I see you in college.  What would you do there?"

You did not do well in chemistry because you could not see the little picture, the drama inherent in the behavior of atoms.  Physics was a no-brainer; it probed the way of momentous behavior in nature, and you were quite drawn to momentous events, whether in a laboratory, a nuclear collider, or the potential ways of linking disparate things to produce a result larger than any of the small things.

All these years later, it occurs to you how you might have made the jump, seen the personalities and agendas of elements and compounds in the same way you were beginning to look small for miracles, find momentous things in small events and persons who seem perplexed or pestered or had some attitude.

An element is said to be ductile if it, like copper, will allow itself to be drawn into thin strands.  A person is said to be malleable if that person, like lead or gold, can be pounded or pressed into a variety of shapes.

There is a close eqivalent of War and Peace in The Periodic Table of Elements.  You've had many an exciting discussion of this fact with the man who taught The Periodic Table of Elements and their ramifications to a man who would one day perform eleven hours of surgery upon you, removing aspects of a Type III cancer and, in a kind of symbiotic sense, performing editorial or revisionary chores on surrounding parts so that they might continue to perform as intended. free of cancerous interference.

The basic unit for chemistry is the atom.  The basic unit for drama is the scene.  Characters respond to one another in ways not unlike the ways elements in The Periodic Table of Elements behave in various ways toward one another.

There were moments in chemistry when the subject and the instructor almost got you, by introducing the subject of valence, which were in essence equivalents to be memorized the way multiplications wre to be memorized.  Valence speaks to the reaction and tendencies of atoms to attract to one another and in what proportions.  Two atoms of hudrogen attaching to one atom of oxygen, right?

But Shoot the sheriff in the first paragraph won out over valence.  Get story started right now.  Valences and chemistry are only just beginning to catch up in your understanding of the exciting possibilities of the universe and its inhabitants.

You feel a chemistry for certain types of books, stories, poems, music, paintings, and photographs.  You are drawn to individuals with similar valences, individuals with whom you may to some significant degrees, exchange meanings, sentiments, and properties.  You are comfortable among these individuals with your tastes and visions and they with your heresies, for you are in fact all heretics of one sort or another.

You continue to be hit by bolts of lightning.  Only today, while in the midst of one of your conversational lectures, you had occasion to mention Publius Aelius Traianus Hadrianus Augustus, better known as the Emperor Hadrian (76 

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