Sunday, July 23, 2006

The thing about math is:

When I started college I was a computer science major. At Texas A&M Computer Science had a built in minor, and I had chosen to pursue math. During my third full semester of college, around the time that the computer science dictocrats decided it was time to get efficient at programming, I was in my third semester of calculus and fascinated with drawing sketches of Sherilyn Finn in the side columns of my notes. I realized at this point that I was much more interested in solving problems, and critical thinking, than I was programming computers, so I defected to the math department. For many reasons this was a good decision, not the least of which was meeting mr. g sansom.

The thing about math is that it is self contained. I always liked that theoretically one could figure out all of the answers to an exam without ever having looked into a text book or been to a class. And, indeed, I had one friend who would do this. His brain was intimidating. I had to wing it a few times. And there were even times when a teacher would require it of you, like when my probability professor decided to include a question from her graduate level class final on her undergraduate class final exam. I got that one right. I got the extraordinarily basic ones wrong. One could never accomplish this with say and english exam on t.s. eliot's the waste land without having read either the poems or anything about the poems.

The thing about T.S. Eliot is that I've long considered him to be an arrogant bastard. Maybe he was, but I simply thought poetically he was. The man experienced profound spiritual change during his life, and if one were to read Prufrock followed by the four quartets this would be evident. The problem that I had was that he seemed convinced that because he had this experience, and came to these truths, that now noone else would ever have to. He had figured out the answer, and we simply had to believe him.

It occured to me while driving the other day, that even though I could theoretically figure out all of the answers on my own, sometimes it is relevant to look in the text book and see if a theorem already exists. And I realized just now, that T.S. Eliot probably had more patience than I ever gave him credit for.

All the wild horses
All the wild horses
Tethered with tears in their eyes
May no man's touch ever tame
May no man's reigns ever chain you
And may no man's weight ever defrayed your soul
And as for the clouds
Just let them roll
Roll away
Roll away
As for the clouds
Just let them roll
Roll away
Roll away

1 comment:

ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen said...

T.S. Eliot!