April 10th, 1998 was my late business partner’s 52nd birthday. He was in the hospital and died shortly after. Esophageal cancer, twenty years ago. Already! Amazingly, he can still surprise me, even though he’s been gone all these years.
Searching his name the other day, I came across a 1996 forum entry he’d made. Here is the sig that signed off the entry:
There is one art, no more, no less,
To do all things with artlessness.
– Piet Hein
Piet Hein … I know that name, but never heard it from Royko. Royko knew about Hein, long before I heard of him through sculptor Gord Smith.
You see, Piet Hein was a Danish genius who, among many other accomplishments, discovered the Superegg, a geometrical solid with 2 centres of gravity.
Gord Smith, who works right here in Toronto, went Hein two better, inventing his Superall, with 4 centres of gravity. It is a form that falls between a sphere and a tetrahedron.
I’ve handled seen and held beautiful examples of Superalls in Gord’s Carlaw studio. He created the form through art and intuition, not mathematics.
Occasionally I ask myself what Paul missed by dying so young. Most of what has happened in the last 20 years was already beginning while he was still around. Computers, the internet and all that. Everything has been developed, refined and extended, by there hasn’t been much that would be completely new to him.
Some stuff he missed, he wouldn’t have liked, anyway, but I do wish he and Gord Smith had met and talked. That would have been an interesting conversation.