The Iterative Nature of the Magical Discovery Process

by Bogi Takács

for {J, M}
Spellwords: LĀM WĒ AWĀN Mairu: We're testing the patience of jellyfish; Eyawan dips ankles, hands in the water as she struggles to maintain altitude. The spell should be technically correct, she just has difficulty with power. I push the oft-heard words away from myself: humans are not supposed to fly. Eyawan: Along a straight line; how simple, I thought, and yet how to persist in this heated constantly dragging- draining spellsheath around me I do not know! But Mairu could — Mairu: She resists to ask until she falls, clambers out of the shallow seawater grimacing, jellyfish-stung. Together we have enough magic — I only ask if I could watch from below, for I am dearly afraid of the sky. Eyawan: Yes! I am pulled along as if on a string, these breathrending ever-hastening speeds make my blood steam! Yes — but I cannot go higher, I nudge my body against the air I despair — will I forever trail the watersurface, never to rise higher, will I be fated to this distasteful imitation, a pretend-seagull cawing in vain? Mairu: We must rethink the spellwords. Spellwords: LĀM WĒ LĀM Eyawan: I shrug, ignore the smiles giggles that trail us like water drips in our footsteps. Kids run after us race from the hilltops and squeal in delight. Possibility-churn in my thoughts, an overabundance of fresh approaches — I shall not be distracted, I shall notMairu: The bristly fisherfolk truly like us: two haphazard women from the city who hug and kiss with a passion. They are not intimidated, do not whisper or point fingers, two such strong mages, not in a hundred years — I grew weary of the chatter in the Academy. I wanted to work, and Eyawan likewise: even now, walking along the dirt path with chin held high, I can feel the feverish thought-churn inside her unruly head. Eyawan: Wait — ahead lies a pattern of relating a concept to itself binding it together one to one. Rubberstrings will snap me into the clouds when we try this — Mairu, Mairu, can it be today? Mairu: After a hearty fish-stew we rush back to the shore, Eyawan already plotting. My stomach is too complacent and full, but her enthusiasm helps draw the magic from within my chest. She swings up into the air, at a familiar angle: one-eighth of a circle as they measure in the Academy. She laughs and whoops, disappears into the sky. Fear grips me for a moment, but she keeps steadily drawing on my magic, therefore she must be all right. She reappears at a similar, descending angle — did she reverse the spell? Hmm... Beloved, can we change just a few words and thus change the steepness? Eyawan: I love you. I really need to sleep. Spellwords: LĀM WĒ AWĀN LĀM Mairu: My construction, my concept this time? We complement each other and sometimes we find it hard to tell us apart — even though Eyawan is brusque and I am mild and stolid, on occasion even boring. Our handiwork merges smoothly. Eyawan: Twice as high, twice as fast, twice twice I can just multiply, increase, soar mock the sea-creatures from above, twist and corkscrew around my axis as the spell drives me up like an arrow in a straight line steeper than last time. This, this is improvement, the sheer force of iteration that must eventually produce a breakthrough — this is what drives me onward. Mairu: Persistence is the key that opens this lock. My magic is smooth and flat like the islands, and as it joins with Eyawan's and pulls her ever higher, I hiss between my teeth — I close my eyes to feel the wind against her face. Spellwords: LĀM WĒ LĀM AWĀN-WĒ LĀM Eyawan: We roast onions I munch, the sweet taste splattering in my mouth and we muse, triumph must be so close as to touch — oh why does it have to be a straight line why if we use a concept to describe the slope we can also fill that slot with the concept itself we can, we can — Mairu: Sometimes I'd just like to eat, but this time I'm curious, eager to see what our new set of spellwords brings. We build science out of nothing. A new, different world — populated by shared ideas and filled with gasping delight. Eyawan: Ever-curving skyward, this falling sunward grips me as I spread arms to feel the resistance of air on my skin — I cry with the release of joy, mutual success, I sense Mairu down below stretching out hands toward me and smiling, I, I — Mairu: Eyawan, it's me! Eyawan: We. I flatten, fall back-forward, splosh into sea like a lost firework — these curves and arcs are tricky! I spit out saltwater and cuss. Yes, we did it! Mairu: This embrace, this dance in the sticky-warm sea is a pearl of memory I shall cherish, I know — but my mind already works on formulating the next step, and with Eyawan it's the same. We join hands, drag each other to the rough-grained sand, lie there panting as the grit insinuates itself into fabric — I'll have plenty to wash. Now, we pledge to each other: Tomorrow, we begin again. ______________ The poem references János Bolyai's famous dictum: "Out of nothing, I created a new, different world." Describing the mathematical functions using current Earth conventions is an exercise left to the reader. Solutions below... x → 2 x → x x → 2x x → x2


Bogi Takács is a neutrally gendered Hungarian Jewish person who's recently moved to the US. Eir speculative fiction and poetry has been published in venues like Strange Horizons, Apex, Scigentasy and GigaNotoSaurus, among others. You can visit eir website or find em on Twitter, where e also posts diverse story and poem recommendations five times a week.

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