If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly,but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

-1 Corinthians 13

Ludmilla, now you are being read. Your body is being subjected to a systematic reading, through channels of tactile information, visual, olfactory, and not without some intervention of the taste buds. Hearing also has its role, alert to your grasps and trills. It is not only the body that is, in you, in you, the object of reading: the body matters insofar as it is part of a complex of elaborate elements, not all visible and not all present, but manifested in visible and present events: the clouding of your eyes, your laughing, the words you speak, your way of gathering and spreading your hair, your initiatives and your reticences, and all the signs that are on the frontier between you and and usage and habits and memories and prehistory and fashion, all codes, all the poor alphabets by which one human being believes at certain moments that he is reading another human being.

And you too, O Reader, are meanwhile an object of reading: the Other reader now is reviewing your body as if skimming the index, and at some moments she consults it as if gripped by sudden and specific curiosities, then she lingers, questioning it and waiting till a silent answer reachers her, as if every partial inspection interested her only in the light of a wider spatial reconnaissance. Now she dwells on negligible details, perhaps tiny stylistic faults, for example the prominent Adam’s apple or your way of burying your head in the hollow of her shoulder, and she exploits them to establish a margin of detachment, critical reserve, or joking intimacy; now instead she accidentally discovered detail is excessively cherished – for example, the shape of your chin or a special nip you take at her shoulder – and from this start she gains impetus, covers (you cover together) pages and pages from top to bottom without skipping a comma. Meanwhile, in the satisfaction you receive from her way of reading you, from the textual quotations of your physical objectivity, you begin to harbour a doubt: that she is not reading you, single and whole as you are, but using you, using fragments of you detached from the context to construct for herself a ghostly partner, known to her alone, in the penumbra of her semiconsciousness, and what she is deciphering is this apocryphal visitor, not you.

Lover’s reading of each other bodies (of that concentrate of mind and body which lovers use to go to bed together) differs from the reading of written pages in that it is not linear. It starts at any point, skips, repeats itself, goes backward, it insists, ramifies in simultaneous and divergent messages, converges again, has moments of irritation, turns the page, finds its place, gets lost. A direction can be recognized in it, a route to an end, since it tends toward a climax, and with this end in view it arranges rhythmic phases, metrical scansions, recurrence of motives. But is the climax really the end? Or is the race toward the end opposed by another drive which works in the opposite direction, swimming against the moments, recovering time?

If ne wanted to depict the whole thing grahically, every episode, with its climax, would require a three dimensional model, perhaps four-dimensional, or, rather, no model: every experience is unrepeatable. What makes lovemaking and reading resemble each other most is that within both of them times and spaces open, different from measurable time and space.

-If on a winter’s night a traveller, Italo Calvino, p155

The ├╝berphilosopher Bertrand Russell presents a particularly toxic variant of my surprise jolt in his illustration of what people in his line of business call the Problem of Induction or Problem of Inductive Knowledge (capitalized for its seriousness) – certainly the mother of all problems in life. How can we logically go from specific instances to reach general conclusions? How do we know what we know? How do we know that what we have observed from given objects and events suffices to enable us to figure out their other properties? There are traps built into any kind of knowledge gained from observation.

Consider a turkey that is fed every day. Every single feeding will form up the bird’s belief that it is the general fule of life to be fed every day by friendly members of the human race “looking out for its best interests,” as a politician would say. On the afternoon of the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, something unexpected will happen to the turkey. It will incur a revision of belief.

-Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. “One Thousand and One Days, or How Not to be a Sucker.” p40