You might have heard of Fractals, or have seen Mandelbrot patterns. Big claims have been made for them
- Alice Fulton wrote "Just as fractal science analysed the ground between chaos and Euclidean order, fractal poetics could explore the field between gibberish and traditional forms"
- M. Birken and A.C.Coon wrote "Fractals may be the most complex and the most subtle examples of patterns found in both mathematics and poetry"
So what are fractals? Symmetry is when you can do something to a shape so that it matches itself - with rotational symmetry you rotate the shape; with reflection symmetry you reflect the shape. You can look upon fractals as another type of symmetry where instead of rotating or reflecting, you magnify. In real life you can get a rough idea of how this works by looking at a tree (the pattern of the boughs is like the pattern of twigs when you zoom in) but pure fractals only exist in maths - it doesn't matter at what scale you look at certain mathematical objects, they'll always look the same.
In "Fractals" I try to use this idea as a guiding analogy - depth gives you repetition on a different scale, not profundity; writing about writer's block leads to a confusion of fact and fiction, re-writing life. The framed story leads to the frame. A wood is full of trees made of wood. A character is described in words made of characters. It's another of my favourite pieces - given its brevity I think it packs a lot in.