Stare.
 
2000 Notebook: Transition IX
 
   
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9 March 2000
Veronique's Three-dimensional Painting Strategy
Veronique has spent the last thirty-nine years making exact replicas of "old master" paintings. She's never sold them as forgeries, although she could have. She's that good, and so are her paintings.

In fact, the paintings are not exact copies. A minute inspection reveals that the artist's perspective is slightly different than the original, as if she were looking at the same scene about seven centimeters to the right of the original painter's viewpoint.

Seven centimeters is about the distance between Veronique's eyes, and is the optical ocular basis for her art. She's trying to recreate the scene the artist saw centuries ago; she's trying to let the viewer look through the artist's eyes. I'm not sure if she succeeded.

Take Rembrandt's 1642 painting, The Shooting Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq, aka, The Night Watch. When I used special glasses to simultaneously view a life-size reproduction of the original and Veronique's "copy," I experienced a three-dimensional effect, but it was far from an epiphany. The figures in the foreground certainly stood out from those behind them, but the effect felt like a cheap optical trick. I certainly didn't feel like I'd gone back in time three-and-a-half centuries.

Veronique seemed quite pleased with her work. I suppose that's the only thing that matters when it comes to art.

10 March 2000
Modern Art Doesn't Work
Fred missed his train, so we headed over to a bar that was featuring some sort of "art over the Internet" event. We could see from the window that the technicians couldn't get their computers to work, so we headed to a friendlier drinking hole. After dropping Fred off on the next train, I perversely decided to return to the bar with the dodgy computers. I could see from a glance that the technicians were still trying, unsuccessfully, to get their computers to talk with the Internet.

Later that evening, another friend said she was headed to the ill-fated techno-bar to see the presentation. I told her I doubted they had their connection working. I suggested she avoid the deluge and read a good book. She ignored my advice, a policy that's always served her well.

When she came back a wet hour later, I asked her how the show was. She said she had a good time watching embarrassed would-be engineers trying to get their equipment to work.

Modern art: it's not for everyone.

11 March 2000
Gulf Sierra Zulu Yankee
india whiskey alpha sierra alpha lima whiskey alpha yankee sierra india november tango romeo india golf uniform echo delta bravo yankee tango hotel echo romeo alpha india november bravo oscar whiskey whiskey alpha romeo romeo india oscar romeo' sierra romeo alpha delta india oscar november alpha mike echo (charlie alpha lima lima sierra india golf november?), "gulf sierra zulu yankee." india alpha lima whiskey alpha yankee sierra whiskey alpha november tango echo delta tango oscar mike echo mike oscar romeo india zulu echo tango hotel echo papa hotel oscar november echo tango india charlie sierra papa echo lima lima india november golf oscar foxtrot tango hotel echo alpha lima papa hotel alpha bravo echo tango, bravo uniform tango november echo victor echo romeo golf oscar tango alpha romeo oscar uniform november delta tango oscar india tango.

yankee echo tango.

12 March 2000
Bad Art, Great Time
Li called from Korea for a chat. I can talk for hours when I make a call, but for some reason I feel uncomfortable talking at someone else's financial expense.

When Li asked me how I was doing, I gave her my shortest honest answer: "I'm making bad art and having a great time."

"That's wonderful!" Li said smiling over the phone. (She can actually do that.) "I was worried you might be having a bad time making great art."

That's never been a problem for me.

13 March 2000
Tales from the Womb
Bethan has a Philosophiae Doctor degree in science, so she can tell me things about pregnancy I never knew. Or, rather, I may have once known these things, but I've forgotten almost everything I learned as a fetus.

Bethan told me every human spends the first few days of his/her existence/life with no input from the father, so to speak. Every month an egg starts to develop into a human, sans "dad," and it's only the lucky ones that later link up with a male wriggly go on to be born (only to die a number of decades later).

She also told me something I could have guessed, but never thought about. The unborn child drinks the serous fluid in which it is suspended, pees it out, then drinks it again! Over and over and over! (I once read that some people drink their own urine to maintain and improve their health; I guess we all did at one time or another.) I know pregnancy is perhaps the most natural thing in the world, but I still don't think I'd want another person doing that sort of thing inside of me.

All this thinking about nature and health is giving me a headache. I'm going to drink whisky, one of the most convoluted beverages ever devised.

14 March 2000
Everything I Have to Say About Clothes
I never buy clothing, except items with special functions such as gaiters, gloves, et cetera. Almost everything I wear is a gift; I'm still wearing clothes my grandmother bought me. (She died almost a dozen years ago.) My long-suffering mother, who never tires of her futile quest to make me a respectable member of society, has provided me with most of my "wardrobe."

How can I explain my complete lack of interest in my attire? I can't. Or, rather, I couldn't until I came across a brilliantly succinct explanation by Scott Adams:

    Clothes are the lowest priority for an engineer, assuming the basic thresholds for temperature and decency have been satisfied. If no appendages are freezing or sticking together, and if no genitalia or mammary glands are swinging around in plain view, then the objective of clothing has been met. Anything else is a waste.

I'm certainly no engineer, but I do know what I don't like.

15 March 2000
Making the Grades
Uh-oh, Professor Rickie is in trouble. Again. His nefarious students haven't received their exam results, and they think they know why.

They heard that Professor Rickie took a somewhat unusual approach to grading. He locked himself in his office with a bottle of absinthe, then drew a huge cross on the floor. He wadded up each exam, then tossed it at the intersection of the two lines. He then gave each exam an A, B, C, or D, depending on which quadrant the crumpled exam landed in.

That's all his students know. And, for once they're right. What they don't know is that Professor Rickie then flew off to Paris for a week of hedonistic excess with a famous musician. And when he returned, he discovered he hadn't noted which student received which grade.

What Professor Rickie does know is that some of the more aggrieved troublemakers in his class are planning on publishing an exposé. In the student newspaper! Shock! Horror!

I decided to help Professor Rickie, so we locked ourselves in his office with another bottle of absinthe and my computer. I then wrote a crude program that generated random grades. Since giving random grades might be considered somewhat unfair, Professor Rickie went through the list and adjusted the grades for some of the students he knew well. To be precise, he lowered all the rabble-rousers' grades.

A student newspaper exposé! Really! College kids should know better. But, if they did, I suppose they wouldn't still be in school.

16 March 2000
The Googolplex Problem
I read that a googolplex is the largest named number. I don't really know enough about math to describe it, but I'll try.

"Googolplex" is written as the numeral ten with the word "googol" in superscript, i.e., 10googol. (Nine-year old Milton Sirotta coined the word "googol," the numeral one followed by a hundred zeros. What a precocious tyke!) Googolplex could also be written as a one followed by 10100 zeros.

That is, it could be written that way if that was possible. According to Arthur Eddington, googolplex can't be written with all the zeros because there are only [1 followed by 1,089 zeros] particles in the universe. Despite my tireless research, I have been unable to find a name for [1 followed by 1,089 zeros].

Where's Milton Sirotta when you need him?

17 March 2000
Ostrich Eyes
An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain. I've met a few people like that. They're all beady-eyed "arts" administraitors.

(I apologize if I've offended any ostriches; they're fine and useful creatures.)

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©2000 David Glenn Rinehart