I'm sitting here enjoying a warm cup of vanilla chamomile tea, recovering from helping my son with his math homework and enjoying the glory of what could be nothing less than an epiphany!
That's right ladies and gentlemen, somewhere in the midst of deciphering fractions with polynomials I had an earth shattering revelation. It's the kind or revolutionary unveiling that has the potential to sweep across the globe and change existence as we know it. I'm talking the perfect balance of the yin and the yang. I'm talking peace in the Middle East. I'm talking cats and dogs living in harmony. This might even solve the budget crisis.
It's no secret that there are two types of smart people in this world.
First there are the word people.
The artisans of the belles lettres - the poets, authors, essayists, screenwriters, playwrights, the storytellers that add beauty to our world, entertain our minds, and even ensure the survival of the species by helping us fall in love.
There's the journalists, editors, publishers, and reporters that tell us what is going on in the world around us. They help us know what to expect in our cities, towns, states, and even across the globe.
There are the lawyers, orators, priests, philosophers, and even the evolutionary ancestors of our current politicians, the statesmen, These people write our laws, recite our creeds and philosophies, and inspire us to be good citizens. From this group we derive law and order. This is the organization of our society that helps us live among each other.
And there are the archivists, the historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, and professors of the humanities that help us understand all of these things above.
Together we make up an important team that the world needs. And we use letters, beautiful letters to share our craft with the world.
Shakespeare, Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, Marlowe, Tolkien, and Rowling are examples of word people.
Then there are the number people. They're a mostly scientific lot. Engineers, astronauts, IT personnel, machinists, surveyors, physicists, astronomers, and computer programmers, are all number people. They are different from word folks in that they are about function, not form. It's a really practical bunch. Numbers on this side, numbers on that side, and as long as they all shake out, everything is just dandy.
But somewhere along the line the number people got jealous. It wasn't enough that they had invented the wheel. They weren't content that they had mastered the arch, the structure that made bridges, the aqueducts of Rome, and even the palatial libraries and cathedrals of the word people possible. No, none of this sustained them. Their hearts were filled with iniquity and they hated their wordy brethren with the same hate that Cain felt for his favored brother, Abel. They sought to strike out against them and unleash vengeance. Because just as Darth Vader knew that the ability to destroy planet is insignificant next to the power of The Force, the number people knew the ability to put a man on the moon is insignificant next to the power of The Picture of Dorian Gray.
So the number people, addled by the fury in their souls, grabbed the letters, the precious possessions of the word people, and they mingled the beautiful letters in with the crude numbers. They gave some of the letters prominence, and others they ignored entirely.
They took the polite and humble "i" who never hurt a soul and turned it cruel and raunchy. It became the most irrational of all the numberized letters, an imaginary number, one that didn't even make sense to the number people as no such number could even exist in nature. It had to be created in some dank lab in Romania with a tortured little hunchback to go out and gather parts from deceased letters to make this beast of an irrational number.
But it doesn't have to be this way.
We can reason with the number people. We can reach out to them and try to make amends for whatever might have happened to cause the iniquity in the hearts of our numbering brethren. We can give them the validation they need for their role in our society. We must ask for them to let our letters go. The English letters, the Greek letters, all the letters. We can ask for them to agree that pies are round and that no natural tree grows cubed roots. We can end the bondage of our much maligned "i" and release him from his dark fate.
And then we can work together, forging a new world. We can allow numbers and letters to live side-by-side...just not in the same math problem.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire