Wednesday, December 10, 2008


The Male Child had a bit of a shout the other day. Geometry: specifically proofs. Also teachers who assign 32 problems but only grade a random 5. Totally with the Male Child on that second one.

But not the first.

I love geometry - love it, and the proofs were the best part. I loved the logic of it, the fun of building up a watertight argument based on simple principles. I loved that you start with one line and add another and the complexities spiral out in a gorgeous pattern, with the proofs underlying it all as a word-constructed skeleton.

Male Child thinks I'm nuts. Male Child couldn't disagree more strongly - or loudly. Male Child feels that proofs are The Man (okay, the woman - teacher is female) trying to dictate how it thinks. Male Child was rather eloquent (if noisy) on the subject of intellectual freedom and integrity.

I'm down with that.

But the Male Child then starting bad-mouthing my man Euclid and we do not trash talk Euclid. Not in this house, man. Nor do we disparage Archemedes (dude! The guy ran naked down the street shrieking "I have found it!" out of the sheer excitement of discovery and invention! Doesn't get better than that).

So I might have gotten a bit passionate about just why Euclid and his lines and circles were so damn cool. Look kid, I said (or words like that), this guy was discovering laws and precepts about the world - think about it, laws and precepts that were not based on the supposed desires of some dude on a mountain with a questionable concept of marital fidelity. They weren't handed over by a chap in a stone building with a sharp knife and a thing for barbecue. Euclid was seizing control of the world by figuring out how to describe the abstract and then using that description to predict the material - just him and his brain, no gods, no priests, no political leaders. His geometry gave him and his friends the ultimate in intellectual freedom and integrity and made them the ultimate rebels. James Dean in Peloponnesus baby - probably wore a black leather chiton and had white-walls on his chariot.

The Male Child might not have been totally convinced, but it did sit down to do its homework.

Next week's lecture: Newton: Fifty Chat Up Lines from the Inventor of Calculus.


Anonymous said...

This post rocks.

child 2 said...

chat up lines:
"hey, wanna see the exponential growth of my natural log?"

Megan said...

Thanks Emily - and I'm on tenterhooks waiting to find out that your little one has shed her IV And her nasty virus and is well again. 2 months old... terrifies me just to think about.

Child 2 your grandparents READ THIS BLOG.