Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What else?

orderly disorder by Branimir Zlamalik
From under her pillow, with shaking fingers, Mrs. Mitwisser drew out a pencil (a dirty stub escaped from a boy's schoolbag) and a shred of paper. It was the corner of a page from the torn-up Sense and Sensibility. Weeks ago it had evaded my broom. On this scrap she wrote, slowly, patiently, gleefully, with all her fragile force pounding downward, as if carving on cold stone:

3.2983.10-24 cal./°C. log D

I asked what it meant; what was the "D"?

The formula for entropy, she told me; for disorder; for (and here she amazed me by enunciating these syllables in English, with unmistakable clarity)
"thermodynamical equilibrium." The "D," she said, stood for Death--what else did I think it could be?

~ Cynthia Ozick, Heir to the Glimmering World


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