Math and me

I had one math teacher, for part of Grade 6, who made math interesting … even exciting. Finding a problem’s answer was like solving a detective mystery. Then came high school and a math teacher I disliked. He would say he was brilliant (and sometimes did) but I came away with a dislike of his subject.

I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done, so now I just have to fill in the rest.

— Stephen Wright

I scraped by in math, enough to pass, but never really learned much. My feelings about the subject are mixed, at best. Unsure about whether numbers exist “out there, in the real world” or are an invention of the human brain, I am inclined to come down in the latter camp.

And yet, math can still fascinate me, especially geometry, probably because it’s visual and thus more “real”.  To see seems to be to understand.

Large image of tile design, here.

When artist Matt Wood said he wanted to avoid making art that looked “contrived”, I thought of all the gimmicks taught in art lessons about composition. Rules of thirds, symmetry, circles, triangles and squares. Is Matt as suspicious of these methods as I am? It’s easy enough to hide such underlying structures from viewers, but the artist knows they are there, performing their tricks.

Math can bedazzle me and even command my respect with its seeming predictive power. It has practical uses and dominates more and more of our digital lives. Still, though math is winning over me, I don’t see it winning me over.

In real life, I assure you, there is no such thing as algebra. …

— Fran Lebowitz

1 thought on “Math and me”

  1. Numbers are like music. A language that is everywhere.
    Rhythm just ‘is’.
    I agree that interpretation is a part of our human brain.

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