Let no one enter here who is ignorant of geometry
– The sign above the door to Plato’s Academy
Greetings y’all! ‘Tis I, the Scarecrow, coming at you in print once again! This has not been the best of times for this columnist. Usually, I write my best stuff when I’m really, really mad about something, or when I’m really, really happy about something. But, I’ve just been kind of depressed lately. And when that happens, I write stuff similar to what I wrote last issue. The kind of article where you read it and just have to ask “Is this person on something?” But hey, this is the Dag, and I’m sure you think that about half of the articles in here. I don’t know, maybe it’s just because of the conflicted life I lead. What? An inner struggle? That sounds like the makings of a great column. One so new and different, you’ll swear you’ve read it before.
For the longest time, I’ve felt that I exist as two people. There is Scarecrow, the artist. The one who does the show (Wednesdays at 10 on 89.1 FM) and writes this mindless drivel once a month. And then, there is Scarecrow, the scientist. The one who is majoring in physics and shows up to all his classes, saying things like “Hey! You forgot a 2 in that third degree, three dimensional integral in spherical co-ordinates!” When you look at our very own college calendar, you are faced with the same decision. A bachelors of arts, or a bachelors of science? As we enter this institution, we are faced right off the bat to make the choice: are you an artist, or a scientist?
My two selves have peacefully co-existed, until now. For it is now that I’m taking a little course called Political Studies 322: The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Now, politics, if you are unaware, is an art. That’s why we changed it from Political Science to Political Studies. A few people have wondered why the hell this physicist is taking a 300 level politics course. What can I say? I’ve always found politics to be enjoyable fluff. now that mid-terms are over and I’ve gotten a feel for the course, that I have come to this conclusion: politics follows no logic. And let me say, now that mid-terms are over and I’ve gotten a feel for the course, that I have come to this conclusion: politics follows no logic. Scarecrow the artist thinks that’s OK, but Scarecrow the scientist has a real problem with it. Let me give you an example. There’s this phrase in Section 7 of the charter: fundamental justice. At first I thought “Hmm, I wonder what that means? Perhaps it’ll be explained in class today.” Well, as class progressed, the professor actually used the term without ever really explaining it. Reading the court case that this involved, the justices of the Supreme Court never really explained it. I talked to one of my friends in the course, and she told me that even if I were to talk to all the current justices, I wouldn’t get a firm definition. So, if I understand this correctly, no one knows what fundamental justice means. Sure, if I understood that class correctly, Sections 8-14 of the Charter gives us some idea of what it is, but no firm definition. Well, being a scientist, I need the definition! If you were to use a term with no definition in a science, you’d probably be carted off to Arkham.
True, we do have things in the sciences with no firm definitions. But we don’t go writing them into laws. We call them theories. When we prove a theory, it becomes a law. A simple, logical progression. But, in the arts, things can be changed on a whim. That law is no good? Let’s re-interpret it! Don’t like that sculpture? Let’s view it in a different light! Don’t like Star Wars? Let’s do a “Special Edition!” Try doing that in a science. This hypothesis wasn’t proven? Well, let’s just say light moves slower! That reaction didn’t work? Let’s just say acids can’t be neutralized! Don’t like that animal? Let’s just genetically re-engineer it! I tell you, it’s at a time like this that I wished I lived in a simpler time.
Imagine if you will, going back in time a few hundred years. To that wonderful time known as the Renaissance. There, we find everyone’s favorite renaissance man/ninja turtle, Leonardo (DaVinci). Here’s a guy who designed the helicopter, analyzed the principles of flight, and painted the Mona Lisa. How about Galileo? This guy did early experiments in gravitation, discovered Jupiter’s moons, and proved that the planets revolve around the Sun. He also wrote poetry, and his published findings are remembered as not only scientific journals, but as great works of literature. At least, I think that was Galileo. I’m writing this over spring break, and I forgot to bring my textbook to double-check that. I do know, that in older times, it was a lot more acceptable for a person to have his hands in everything. The arts and sciences.
You have to dig down in your heart of hearts, and find if you are truly an artist, or a scientist.
But now, you have to choose. You have to dig down in your heart of hearts, and find if you are truly an artist, or a scientist. It’s a separation that very few of us want to make. Society has taught us that we can’t be both anymore. Sorry! Being a Renaissance person is a thing of the past! We’re civilized now, and split thing into categories! If you try and be both, you’re head will explode! Who knows? Maybe that’s why the modern politician is constantly a target. They don’t know enough math. Right now, I’m trying to be both the artist and the scientist, and it leads me to writing mundane, humorless columns like this. I guess I’ve got to choose.
In the last issue, one of our esteemed editors wrote us of how the faculties use how employable a degree from them is a selling point. I feel kind of lucky, then, that no one knows what a physics degree can get me. And look at the only well-known people I’m aware of who have physics degrees: James Cameron, Mike Judge, Bill Amend. All artists. Perhaps physics is the last bastion of free thought, the last place that let’s you try everything, and the last place where arts and science are fused as one. Well, so much for the promised Observations, Angst and Jell-O 2. Too many observations, not enough Jell-O. Is it just me, or am I getting preachy? And long-winded? Something short and pointless in the next issue then. Maybe something about the hidden political innuendoes of eating pizza. Goodnight, everybody!
Don’t forget, if you didn’t like this column, you’ll probably hate the show, Chaos in a Box with the Scarecrow, Wednesday at 10 on 89.1 FM.