The Beautiful Distress of Mathematics

Sometimes you hear a line in a song or a movie and although the line doesn’t have total and outward logic or sense like a simple sentence, (ie – I walked the dog and then came home) you hear it and in all it’s gibberish… made PERFECT sense to you. It was a feeling you’d been trying to put to words… but somehow, the english language eluded piecing that emotion together. And maybe you didn’t know any other languages that might seem fit.

The Matrix (the only movie that I will acknowledge – the FIRST ONE) had a line in it like that… when Morpheus talks about the splinter in your mind…

I know *exactly* what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.

I was in the movie theatre when I heard this line. And w/o the influence of ANYTHING… I felt immediately that something had been explained or described that I felt infinitely since my first cohesive thought. I almost cried sitting there in that theatre that I wasn’t alone to feel that way. Yet and still, you read it and it doesn’t make a whole lotta literal sense, but your HEART hears, feels and recognizes it.

One other such line is from my favorite, not well known remix of Jill Scott’s Love Rain. It’s really not a “remix” at all. It’s the same exact song, but instead of the part where she sings towards the end, she invites Mos Def to rhyme a piece of wonderfulness that made me fall in love with his lyrical ability INSTANTANEOUSLY. The line that grabbed me and shook me was…

You are the beautiful distress of mathematics.

And immediately… exclaimed YES!!! YES – I KNOW THAT feeling!!! I described it for someone tonight and he said “are you writing this down?” so I thought I’d blog it before I forgot. My interpratation of the line is:

you’ve got the theory down… and the practice to go with it…
the exercise of working out the equation is exciting because you’re sure you paid attention…
you’re so proud that you came out with an answer on the other end… just to realize it’s wrong…

because you didn’t include a negative somewhere… or you forgot to carry over a 1…
and you have to start all over again

*sigh* So much on my mind… I just can’t recline…

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