Thursday, April 26, 2012

Divine Pi - Installment 3

(To start from the beginning: Divine Pi - Installment 1
Divine Pi - Installment 2)

photo found at

Ziven made a scoffing pbbt sound and waved his hands in disgust.  He rushed into the kitchen to find his unused stack of proof books, sharpened a new pencil and sat down.  He could barely keep his fingers going fast enough.  He became extremely vexed about this and threw the pencil across the room.  He sighed, took a deep breath and sharpened a new pencil.  I think he sat at that table for at least four hours, pouring over his notes, writing new thoughts and all the while talking aloud to himself.  This was one of his more fortunate habits for me.  I often felt we were having conversations.
In the end though, I got more out of his notes than his intrapersonal communication.  He had drawn diagrams on each page with notes referencing them.  Each diagram became more complicated and layered than the last.  All however, were the same image.  It was as though he had seen it in layers and started at the lowest level then built and built and built.  It was ingenious.  He had actually found something.  He began to understand that science had not yet made progress with Pi because most studies had seen Pi as linear.  He had found a key that took Pi from a long list of numbers to something that looked more like a formed shape, as though the numbers created the surfaces of a 3D object.  But there were whole sets of numbers that broke off from the image and didn't fit.  I was astonished to say the least.  Amazing that it had not come to anyone before to see Pi beyond one dimension.  He sparked my enthusiasm once again.  Every day he doggedly studied the numbers, wrote program after program, test study after test study and I staid right there with him, in the shadows.
For the first three days after the breakthrough, he forgot himself.  This man of regimented schedules had foregone food and showers until he became so weak he could not stand for more than a few minutes without becoming dizzy.  I became fretfully concerned he wouldn't pull out of this and what would I do?  I couldn't exactly call 911, but I couldn't help feeling desperate that we might lose this savant.  To my relief, Benny showed up on that third day and found Ziven sitting in a chair, dazed.
Benny went in the kitchen and started working like a machine.  Benny didn't leave for two days.  He looked after Ziven, making him shower and shave, setting food before him and bringing him his proof books and pencils.  Ziven couldn't have recovered without that boy's devotion.  But he never stopped working, even through his weakness, his mind kept moving, moving toward its goal.
At this point, he became supremely eccentric, on the very edge of sublime.  At times  he would talk to himself so rapidly, so concentrated that he would stop in the middle of the room, have an entire conversation of philosophy, math and physics combined, forgetting where he was.  When the conversation ended, he seemed shocked to find himself standing in his apartment, the mundane reality countering his mental heights.  He had been touched by something, some unseen fervor of immortality.  The foreverness of Pi.  Deeper and deeper, he dug in search of his treasure.  The only road map he held now, were the numbers and expressions flying through his head.  The myriads of notebooks, brimming with his cerebral output, scratched so erratically it sometimes baffled even him.
Four more weeks went by, and he inched closer and closer to that elusive key to his mystery.  There was something palpable in the air, almost frightening, yet comforting, like electricity.
Then she came.  Her delicate knock barely registered an audible tap, the sound so foreign to us, we were both quite nonplussed.  She attempted a knock three more times before he righted himself and proceeded to his door.  He peered through the peephole.  I hadn't seen him so silent in weeks.  Then she reprimanded him from behind the door, “You can't hide from me, Mr. Mathematician.  Open this door, you need to see me.”  An odd declaration from a voice that seemed only faintly familiar.  In fact, Ziven rarely ever had women in his apartment.  Not that there weren't many great mathematical minds in that sex, but he seemed unable to speak, let alone think whenever one would come by.  Their visits tended to be short and singular.
As soon as he opened the door, she bustled in all business.  She took off her coat, hung her purse on a nearby rack and neatly arranged her coat over that.  Before she even turned back to face him, she spoke, “Ziven, I haven't heard from you in almost a year.  In fact, tomorrow will be exactly one year.”
Ziven's eyes glazed over for a moment.  We had both forgotten what tomorrow was, the twenty-third of September.  Every year on this date Ziven would don the only black suit he owned (the rest were scholarly tweedy affairs).  He would then stop into the local flower shop at the end of his block and buy a bouquet of pale pink peonies, her favorite flower.  He would hail a taxi and go to the Memorial Fields Graveyard where he would meet this woman and they would stand at a particular gravestone for long minutes, sometimes not speaking, sometimes animatedly talking and looking pleased.  The gravestone read Alzbeta Demidov, Beloved Sister, 1952 – 2001.

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