FEBRILE CONVERSASTION WITH EUCLID
MC: Hey Uke! Looky here. Got my hands on a Rolleiflex! It’s a German engineered, mechanical, medium format, twin lens reflex, 6x6 camera. Built in the 60s, this one. Guitar wizard Moriarty lent it to me. Belonged to his father. Let me get her out of this leather case. Isn’t she beautiful? The top flips up like this, then you focus at your waist like this. Cool, huh. The built in meter is selenium: that means no batteries. It's got the 80 millimetre Zeiss Planar 2.8 lens, top of the range. And it's square format!
EUCLID: Yes. An imperfect facsimile of the Ideal camera, which of course was invented by God.
MC: No, no, the first twin-lens reflex camera to use rollfilm was invented by this bloke Dr. Heidecke. His prototypes, although they used plates, were made as early as 1908.
EUCLID: God made one before that.
MC: Well, that's as may be, but the design of this Rolleiflex is based on Dr. Heidecke’s Heidoscop stereo camera.
EUCLID: He must have stole that patent off God.
EUCLID: I grant you, this is a good camera. Insofar as it is possible for a human craftsman to devise a good camera. It’s inventor must have had fixed in his mind the Ideal camera. Which was made by God.
MC: Look! It's written here under the lens: "Franke & Heidecke!" I don't know who this Frankie is –
MC: – but, genesis of this camera aside – the fact is, after seeing the world for 'cn years through a rectangle, i now must re-accustom my mental picture to fit the constraints of the square! See? It's got a big square frame, as opposed to the little rectangular frame of the 35 mm camera.
EUCLID: Mark, Mark, Mark, don’t you know a square is just a particular type of rectangle? In classical geometry, we define a square as a rectangle, with two adjacent sides of equal length.
MC: Oh. I didn’t know that. I thought a square was sort of different to a rectangle. So you mean it’s really the same thing? Well, how do you define a rectangle?
EUCLID: A rectangle is defined as a parallelogram which has one of its angles a right angle. So, you see, a square is rectangle too.
MC: But what’s a “parallelogram”?
EUCLID: A parallelogram is a four-sided figure in which the opposing sides are parallel. Look, haven’t you read Books I, II, VII and IX of the Elements?
MC: Well, no. I haven't seen any of them down the coffee shop. What do you mean, “parallel”?
EUCLID: The coffee shop! Mark, Mark, Mark, try to put stimulants out of your mind for just one minute while we deal with geometry. Pay heed to Plutarch, who said, “The function of geometry is to draw us away from the sensible and the perishable, to the intelligent and the eternal. For the contemplation of the eternal is the end of philosophy, just as the contemplation of the mysteries is the end of religion." By “end”, of course, Plutarch meant what is ultimately attainable. The intelligent and the eternal. Focus on that, while I explain parallel lines. No, you can’t have a biscuit. How shall I put it? Parallel lines are straight lines in the same plane which never meet, however far they go either way. You can keep these lines going forever, until an infinite number of cows come home, and they will never meet.
MC: The cows?
EUCLID: No. The lines.
MC: Okay, i think i get the concept of an infinite number of perishable cows. But what do you mean by a “plane”?
EUCLID: A plane is any surface which, with any two points being taken, the straight line between them lies wholly within that surface.
MC: I think i’m with you. But what do you mean by a straight line? Or a surface?
EUCLID: I think you are being deliberately recalcitrant. Obviously, the intersection of any two surfaces is a line. A straight line is simply one which lies evenly between its two points. A four-year-old could tell you this. Somebody bring me a four-year-old! The surface of a body is the boundary which separates it from the rest of space. Do you see?
EUCLID: Holy titty-fucking Christ.* Space! The final frontier! Don’t you watch Star Trek? God damn you!
EUCLID: Bah, that one’s easy. God is the Creator. The Christians say He created all things, the world and all the creatures within it, for the benefit of Mankind!
MC: He created all things for the benefit of Mankind?!
EUCLID: I just fucking said that.
MC: So how come fish aren’t boneless?
EUCLID: Mark Mark Mark. Why must you always drag the sublime into the gutter, and grovel about amongst the sensual and the perishable like some kind of frenzied fishmonger?
MC: Euclid, you’re a regular square. And a pedant to boot.
EUCLID: Just because I'm two-dimensional doesn't mean I'm a square. A pedant? Maybe. My colleague in the realm of the intelligent and the eternal, the inimitable Bertrand Russell, described a pedant as “one who prefers his statements to be true.”
EUCLID: Don't start. Yes, "true". That’s what he said. I just love Russell’s use of the word prefers, don’t you? “One who prefers his statements to be true.” Russell is just so – so – pedantic! So close to the Ideal philosopher.
MC: Fuck philosophy, i’ve got to get this Rolleiflex serviced. Can't you recommend someone?
EUCLID: Well, since God invented it, god should service it. I'd say take it to Max Dellaway, the camera repair god. But to quote Pliny, even as a god, he cannot make it that twice ten is not twenty, as such is the power of Nature. And in fact it is this power which we call God.
EUCLID: Mark, go see Max. Tell him Euclid sent you.
* "Holy titty-fucking Christ": Euclid is believed to have appropriated this expression from The Donsta (circa a.d. 2006).
Monday, November 20, 2006
FEBRILE CONVERSASTION WITH EUCLID