I don’t like Math with or without a calculator. When I was in grade school, I struggled to pass my Math subject. As a child, I did not understand why I had to memorize the multiplication table. To me, there was no peace in fractions, remainder, dividends. In college, I could not find significance of algebra in my life. In music, I cannot tell how many beats are there in a measure. In reading a newspaper, I choose to read commentary, entertainment section over business section because of its numerical data. If one asks me, how far is Las Pinas from Quezon city, I will not answer in kilometers. I’ll just say it feels like traveling all over the Philippines. I don’t like anything that has to do with numbers. That’s why I never love money.
Now that I’m old, I change my perspective. I don’t like Math, not only because of my mental ability, but because Math requires standard measurement and a certain level of accuracy. Forever, one plus one equals two, not slightly two or almost two.
I like to see things as relative and as subjective as they are. Because when there is no measurement, no accuracy, one can build his or her imagination and interpretation. For instance, “an endless night” is better said than “12 hours without sleep.” And when a boy wants to flatter a girl, he might use geometry. Hence, he will say, “You are mathematically beautiful. Your face is in proportion. The proportions of the length of the nose, the position of your eyes and the length of your chin all conform to some aspect of the Golden Ratio”
It might be a meaningful compliment but it is not as romantic as Shakespeare would woo a woman. ” Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day. Thou art more lovely and more temperate… But thy eternal summer shall not fade. Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st, nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade. When in eternal lines to Time thou grows’t.”
In practical application, numbers might be involved in relationships. Imagine a husband asking his wife, “Do you love me?” And she will reply: “ We’ve been together for more than ten years. I cook your meals. I wash your laundry. I clean your house. I press your clothes. “ Is it not sad to know that love can be measured by length of time and by number of deeds?
With measurement comes perfection. People become obsessed with numbers. A perfect female body has a vital statistics of 34-24-36. As I watch beauty pageant, I wonder do they really look perfect in my eyes or is it the mind that tells me they look sexy because of their vital statistics? In school, students compete to meet high grades. Academics try to measure one’s excellence in essay, art, performance when in truth these things largely depend on the nature of audience. With the world of numbers, anything can be quantified. Numbers set the bar. Hence, there is top 1 and top 2.
The purpose of Science and Math is to understand the world. But I’d rather leave some things incomprehensible, unfathomable. Without Math, age doesn’t matter. Transcript of records does not matter. Everything could have been make-believe without Math.
P.S. I don’t like Math but I happen to love people who like Math. Happy Birthday to my mathematician friend, Sol Mariano.