C++ is essentially applied-math . . . and I would take a class in this as an elective during the boot-camp period of my first semester of my new schizophrenic, collaboration-focused art and technology graduate program in 2008. My theory and culture-focused / art-education-trained-brain thus far hadn’t felt the hard limits of math, logic, or anything of the like, since astronomy and micro-economics several years before.
Sometime around the 6th week of class, I stayed up until 3 in the morning working on the chapter on functions. In previous weeks I’d accidentally created a loop that printed an unending list figures and would only stop if I closed the program. This was like turning on a faucet without being able to turn it off; unleashing an endless little flood of sorts.
On this night I had a break-through. A major portion of my program was working.
I suddenly felt that math, in a general way, was cracking open for me; it seemed to be illuminating something about existence . . . that physics, and much of science can be broken into these abstract digits such that we can see a constant exchange of material going on. (Except of course for breakthroughs related to quantum physics, etc. . . .) Anyway, this was an exciting moment.
I had an unforgetable dream that night: my housemate and I made our way through a forest and approached a dilapidated castle wall (kind of like the faux castle wall in the animated movie Spirited Away). We went through the doors and found a wide lake, smooth with a blue sky overhead. In front of us a log foot bridge extended forward across the lake and we naturally stepped onto it, talking and making our way to the other side.
Gradually, we began to notice that the water was acting strangely. It appeared to be responding to our movements, even our voices.
When I would move my arm this way, the water would flutter this way. And as we began to move around with increasingly complex movements, changing the pitches of our voices, and then making dramatic jumping dance moves, the water became increasingly volatile, splashing us, and threatening to overturn our little footbridge. This was not a game; there was a sense of presence here, and that feeling was ominous.
We hurried the rest of the way across, keeping our movements to a minimum, and went up a hill to the walls of a castle town with turrets and shops. Tourists gaped at the sights, and, seeing our approach, asked in excited voices, “where is the lake?” We exchanged looks, unsure whether to explain the possible danger to them. We said: “it’s over there,” and pointed.