Saturday, May 18, 2013

the purity of mathematics

i never thought i would say it, but i have fallen in love with mathematics.

the elegant little formulas for determining the slope of a line and graphing linear equations really began to drive it home for me. for a week i had been frightened of attempting my graphs homework and i sat there with the graph paper and my ruler for a couple of evenings trying to hammer into my mind why the hell anyone would want to graph an equation to solve it, or what the use would be.

staring at it, and getting another take on if from a couple of other textbooks, i understood. and the beauty and wonder and sense of it all really made it on par with a great work of art. realizing its something like extrapolation- determining what is going to happen up the line- equated it in my mind with some kind of telepathy, with numbers.

of course it isn't so mysterious- or is it? i find it amazing that anyone discovered these things at all. beyond that, realizing that we can determine so much about what can happen and what has happened simply using mathematics (not disregarding the Great Unknowable which is of course, immeasurable, probably) is just one of those things that is hitting me like poetry. it IS poetry.

my greatest wish is that i could somehow light a spark in other artists, especially those who believed they could never learn math, on what makes it such a wonderful system that has made so much possible.  its much like when i find a new band, or hear a great song that i want to share- i want to sit everyone down and graph out an equation and plot those points and then draw the line through it all to show the great symmetry of the system. matrixes are next on the list to learn, and visually they are so stunning that i have no doubt they will romance me in much the same way that graphing has.

math textbooks have been a fetish of mine for quite a while- especially the old editions with their fantastic fonts and op-art illustrations that spark a moog soundtrack in your mind when you look at them. to actually be beginning to understand on a deep level the "why" and the "how" is just an added bonus i never thought i would get. its just so RESTFUL, when you know what you are doing, to sit down with a problem, especially the graphs or figuring a series circuit in parallel, and work them out. when you cross check and discover you have it right, i always want to do a little dance. and i have been, in that sense, dancing alot lately.

perhaps one day i can teach this, demonstrate the poetry of it. because most math teachers didn't start out as artists, they started out with a natural affinity for the complexities of it and were able to get it quite easily. when you have had to literally claw your way to the barest understanding, it feels much sweeter, and its so much more exciting.

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