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By Mai-Thi Ho December 9, 2021

Zero: to Infinity and Back Again

1. The Field

All begins from Zero

What contains everything begins from nothing

From Zero were light and darkness engendered

One chases after the other hoping to contain it

From Zero were chaos and order created

They battle one another to infinity

From Zero were life and death born

Heads and tails they follow each other

On the verge of destruction, creation follows

Never does one element conquer another

The endless wrestle, eternal chase


From the space of Life comes all animals and insects, plants and flowers

Along with Life comes Death

A game of hide and seek

Anti-animals pursue animals

A fleeting dark shadow in thin air

Slowly creeps into breathing beings

Waiting to clutch the beam of light


Zero gazes from outside and above all

At the never-ending game


As life multiplies itself, Zero keenly watches

Lions in the savanna, bathed in sunlight, drenched in blood

Crocodiles in the mud, patient eyes piercing curtains of light

Ants along wooden branches, silent and enduring

The complexity grows as creatures intersect

Sucking in air and burning sunlight

Flowing in water and pounding earth

More intersections Zero awaits



11. Birth and Death

In a far-away valley energy grows dense

A creature infusing elements

Absorbing all that surrounds it and groping for more

A creature is in its creation

Zero watches with eyes of interest

Human, it calls out

Human, Zero whispers, what will you do with my world?

Out of the burning sphere stand three creatures

Who call themselves Hya, Hein, and Ori


Hya, Hein and Ori spend their days strolling on grassland

Picking fruits and catching fishes

When days go dim, they find cozy shelter and sleep

When rains fall, they hum and dance soaked


One day Hein falls into eternal sleep

When breath becomes constant

The fingers of death prevail

Darkness crouches over Hya and Ori

The tip toe of death echoes in minds


Gone are the days of carefree strolling

Hya falls into despair

“We will die too!” she cries

Ori stands by her side.

“No, we will survive.

Light and darkness battle each other.

To survive we consume both life and death, chaos and order.

Containing opposites, harboring balance, we will live on.”



111. The Quest

And so begin Hya and Ori on the quest

To consume earth and air, water and fire, metal and grass

To breathe the night and roam the days

To head on adventures and suffer proudly

To harbor violence, mercy, and kindness

To overflow with love and be ravished by hatred

To take lives and bring out children…


Soon, Hya’s shadow catches up, then Ori’s too

Holding onto the legacy, their children

Grope for life

Build structures out of nature

Yet again, they fail and the shadow takes hold of their life

Relentless their children’s children try and try


They build a civilization, a society

As a species, humans climb to the top

Eyeing the animals down the ladder

As a species, they’ve grown so powerful

They trample on all that had been a burden

In the quest for immortality

Their lifespan doubles and triples

Consuming and housing opposite elements

One day that will be enough, they hope

To wrench free of the struggle, to escape the chase


But again and again the shadows catch up

Swallowed in shadows, one human after another

And again and again they rise up

To stay on the trail to the ultimate destination


In the end the ultimate rule prevails

Everything shall return to zero

From outside, Zero watches and grins

How the complexity blossoms

How the intensity shines

Wonderful world.


Photograph, Night Sky above the city, by Assandruuh, distributed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license.

About the author

Mai-Thi Ho is a student in Enriched Pure & Applied Science. She attempts to bring the self along into her formal studies. "To see a world in a grain of sand" is a view she cherishes.

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    Yiming Qi

    January 21, 2022

    this paragraph reminds me of a Chinese traditional saying by Laozi : ‘ the Dao begets one, one begets two, two begets three, three begets all things.’  the Dao is saying a ultimate regular and a law depicting the entire world, or a way( the directly translation of Dao to English is the way) throughout everything. It seems to express a infinity as a singularity where emerges everything, and it appears to be against author’s theory: Everything form the Zero. Nevertheless, the singularity( the Dao or The zero) is inexpressible and indescribable before everything is. Once everything is, to born things are. From perspective of human, before the singularity makes everything and we therefore understand the world or the specific things, we can not feel anything wether it is everything or nothing, infinity or ash. what everything emerges is like to draw a wisp from a ball of yarn, And a wisp twines it self to a ball of yarn, again and again.Everything‘s origin and end are between a inhale and a sigh.

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    January 28, 2022

    This story begins in a way that mimics the biblical beginning, with the first creation being light and darkness, proceeded by the creation of a man. The biblical paraphrasing is interesting to a certain extent, but the beauty in this text is truly held in the use of literary techniques, the first of which is vivid imagery. The writer uses animals in their natural habitat to provide the reader with a clear vision of how the beginning of the universe is seen; “ Lions in the savanna, bathed in sunlight, drenched in blood. Crocodiles in the mud, patient eyes piercing curtains of light.  Ants along wooden branches, silent and enduring”(Ho, line 23-27). The writer then dives back into how man is created, which once again greatly resembles the bible, as the first human creations are put into existence in a grassy field, picking fruit; in the bible, the first humans also happen to be born in greenery, with their main source of nutrition being fruits, which held great symbolism. The first humans, Hya Hein and Ori, are faced with the dark reality of death very soon after their creation, with Hein falling into the dark resting place of death. Early loss of life is also seen in the bible when Abel, second son of Adam and Eve, is murdered by his older brother Cain. The ladder deaths of Ori and Hya, to no surprise to the reader, are written in a poetic way as it is said “Hya’s shadow catches up, then Ori’s too” (Ho, line 70). The writer uses personification of one’s shadow to symbolize death, which is poetic in several ways; as it both reinforces the fact that darkness signifies death; and is physically accurate as once you lay in your final resting place, your shadow clings to you as you are in direct contact with the ground that is your death bed.

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