Idiots, Hamlet, Calculus, and a Guillotine
Life, I have found, makes more sense with a pen in my hand. Words, not so much the infinite gestures, expressions, and human niceties, I understand. I am the idiot savant of a less poetic age, a philosopher barbarian writing words as if in code, trying to make sense of a senseless society who long ago gave up the ghost of reality.
Stories, they make sense to me. In fact, I’ve devoted much of the past week to reworking, rewriting, revising one such story—the novel I wrote. Maybe in the vain hope that when all is finished, you will like it. You will hold the pages to the sky and say, “My, this beauty overwhelms.”
Until then, I’ll keep getting pelted with the slings and arrows of life, as Hamlet would say—more of less, calculus. Ah, math, you tricky slave to logic and consistency. Just being in the presence of numbers, equations, those foreign mysteries—I feel as fresh as a smoker’s lung.
Tuesday, we received back our exams. I passed, and the fear is over, but before an exam, a fear creeps up. On the cusp of that exam, I felt as if I faced a tragic, untimely death. What will happen? I had to begin, put the pencil to paper. Though I felt as if my very act of taking this exam would kill me. A shotgun poised at my chest.
While words—even German—have a beauty that enlighten and inspire, math has become a high level foreign language class in which I don’t belong, having missed out on the essential vocabulary. This is not merely due to the fact my instructor is Russian, botching every other word with wonky vowels. Instead, math itself has transformed from something simple and concrete into the intense codification of some alien race.
More or less, I would rather play Peek-a-boo with a guillotine than take a math exam ever again. But the weekend begins tomorrow, and I can return to words and only words, quite a solace they be.