Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Chewing on Math

There was something about the precision of math that satisfied his mind: it was like eyeing a daffodil up close, or peering into the folds of a red rose in full bloom.  There was beauty in the symbols, for that is what they are.  They are signatures of something transcendent and majestic.  He would often stare at the black board, ogling the equal and plus signs, the figures of “3” and “2.”  Strange that the curves of the “3” began in a certain place, travelled in circumlocution, ending with something antonymical with the termination of a fine point.  “3.”  What was “3”? 

On the playground, there was the pitcher, the batter and the ball, in mid-air: was that a three?  No, because the batter holds a bat: that’s four.  And what about the ball itself?  It’s not something all its own.  It has a cork center, wool and polyester wrapped that, and then the cover.  That’s a three.  No, he shakes his head.  That’s not a three, because the cover has laces.  And wool and polyester aren’t a one.  They’re a two.  But still: pitcher, batter, ball.  Maybe the batter and the bat are one, after all.  Who knows?

The saliva begins to drip from his eraser as he stares at the teacher’s writing.  It’s so beautiful, they way everything just “works together.”  2+2 really is 4.  Each symbol or signifier has its own place in the equation and if one of them is changed, the equation is either false, or something entirely different.  He tilts his and ponders: humans are the only ones who count and commit their counting in writing with the purpose of teaching their own, the younger ones.  “I wonder if there is a god,” he says to himself.


Noel said...

Love this! There is nothing, NOTHING, like math that shows the cohesion of the Creation and the brilliance and order of the Creator!

Chris Van Allsburg said...

Thanks, Noel!