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the man made out of math (leftover from the end of last term)

January 31, 2011

Yesterday I was handed a yellow form by my new advisor. 
He wanted to understand my story, described best he said by the numbers. The numbers of classes that I’ve taken, the numbers that I’ve received so far. The numbered array that I had yet to complete. The rooms and halls, numbers made concrete.

I remember the spectacle, the small crowd that formed around it 
when they were constructing the man made of numbers.
How we checked on it, to see if it was complete, the crane arching over it, like a bird tending to her nest, building it branch by branch. And indeed the pieces did look like branches here too, except for the fact that they weren’t composed of nature and earth.
Sticks or wood. Were made instead of cold metal forming symbols and expressions that had blurred our vision through the day:
computer screen to text book to completed problem set.

And when it was all done, they lit him up. Leaving out his face and knees. Left blank, I reasoned from a window above, to let the light through. I thought about the design trick of it. Remembering summers spent in Western Mass, talking to sculptors, watching them bronze a statue. Remembering the story of how they lit up the Lincoln Memorial with the reflection pool. Then much later actually seeing it, that summer we spent in DC. Feeling connected to slabs of marble, cool and pink.

I heard that The Alchemist as the statue is called, belongs to an alumni. That he
had commissioned it to sit on his lawn and was lending it to MIT for their 150th anniversary. I remember watching the last piece fit into place as I waited for the bus. We all looked at each other, because to us it seemed that they hadn’t really finished and that maybe it wasn’t enough. That the numbers could not complete the portrait, and that the man was not really a man not a representation of a god or some mythical creature. That he was instead just white metal on top of the grass, bumming in front of the student center all shiny and shit.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 13, 2011 5:17 am

    that sculpture is nuts. I tried to describe it to some MIT alums at work, they found it unfathomable.

  2. March 13, 2011 5:18 am

    Also, it seems like he’s blocking my favorite shortcut to the back of the student center. :[

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