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In mathematics, totally disconnected refers to a type of topological space that you can look up on Wikipedia, if you’re into that kind of thing.  I worked extensively with a certain totally disconnected space for my Ph.D. dissertation.  This nuanced phrase has followed me through the years.

As I started writing poetry I realized that totally disconnected is a metaphor for how I seem to miss out on social signals that are obvious to most people.   I can’t remember the details of many of the most important events in my life.  I can’t recall names and faces.  Often, I can’t recall meeting people who seem to know me quite well.  Life is passing me by and I’m missing it. But, ask me to remember a phone number, that I can do!  Music, games and mathematics all come easily to me.  Yeah, it’s like that.

These poems are first of all about my personal disconnection.  But they also look at the larger context of humanity’s ever evolving disconnection with the natural and physical world.  Collectively, we are facing the disintegration of relationships, the uglification of politics, widespread disease, poverty and conflict, and a climate moving towards creating an inhospitable planet.  Near-term human extinction is, unfortunately, not entirely implausible.

With that unpleasant introduction in mind, there are three loose themes I write about.  These correspond to mathematical objects called groups, rings and fields.  It takes a first course in abstract algebra to understand these words in a mathematical sense and I’m not going to even try to explain.  But again, these words from the heights of mathematical theory can be used purely metaphorically:

  • Group: A collection of people or things.
  • Ring: A close, intimate or forced relationship.
  • Field: The natural, scientific and mythological world.

Okay, confession.  I have no idea how to classify most of my poems according to this scheme.  They often fit into more than one of these categories and sometime they don’t fit any.  But I’m all about square peg into round hole thinking, so I’m not going to let a few axioms stop me. 

With kind regards and gratitude to the reader who made it to the end of this introduction,

Eliot Jacobson
May, 2021

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