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David Bowie aside, I’m fascinated by Nikola Tesla. His neuroses, his pigeons, his poverty, the way his mind worked—maybe my colors are showing as the daughter of a blacksmith.

A fascinating piece of Teslalia (that needs a fill-vowel), his poem “Fragments of Olympian Gossip,” curiously dedicated to German poet, publisher, mystic, propagandist, and Nazi-apologist George Sylvester Viereck (also known for the “first known gay vampire story,” as Wikipedia puts it). Tesla’s contributions to a wealth of modern inventions tends to go unnoticed (radar, radio, maybe even a death ray), and this poetic commentary on the 1920’s scientific community is usually swept under the rug, along with them:

Nikola Tesla, November 4, 1934
“Fragments of Olympian Gossip”

While listening on my cosmic phone
I caught words from the Olympus blown.
A newcomer was shown around;
That much I could guess, aided by sound.
“There’s Archimedes with his lever
Still busy on problems as ever.
Says: matter and force are transmutable
And wrong the laws you thought immutable.”
“Below, on Earth, they work at full blast
And news are coming in thick and fast.
The latest tells of a cosmic gun.
To be pelted is very poor fun.
We are wary with so much at stake,
Those beggars are a pest—no mistake.”
“Too bad, Sir Isaac, they dimmed your renown
And turned your great science upside down.
Now a long haired crank, Einstein by name,
Puts on your high teaching all the blame.
Says: matter and force are transmutable
And wrong the laws you thought immutable.”
“I am much too ignorant, my son,
For grasping schemes so finely spun.
My followers are of stronger mind
And I am content to stay behind,
Perhaps I failed, but I did my best,
These masters of mine may do the rest.
Come, Kelvin, I have finished my cup.
When is your friend Tesla coming up.”
“Oh, quoth Kelvin, he is always late,
It would be useless to remonstrate.”
Then silence—shuffle of soft slippered feet—
I knock and—the bedlam of the street.

Nikola Tesla, Novice

Okay, okay, some of it sounds a little like lyrics off The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust. But you can’t argue with this:

Happy Birthday, Nikola Tesla.

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Published Jul 09, 2010 - Comments Off on Keep your ‘lectric eye on me, babe

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