“I think you need to introduce an element of chaos into your columns.”
This was not an editorial suggestion; Zander and Steve think there is quite enough chaos in my work as it is. This was merely a friendly piece of advice — and incidentally, those wishing to join my transatlantic fan base should mail me $10 with their favourite Nick quote and we’ll see about getting those t-shirts printed.
“I remember when I was an undergrad here,” mused the fan. “We used to run naked through CCL, handing out candy and pornographic magazines.” His eyes misted, he stared into the middle distance and, I swear, the background turned sepia.
Too much information for this column, but I liked the idea, so in an attempt to generate chaos last Friday, I got very drunk very quickly. I’d like to take this chance to apologize to all those people who experienced chaos as a result.
Having said that, chaos theory is about as much fun as you get in physics. I have a surprising number of physicist friends, and occasionally, I ask them to explain what they do; consequently, my mind is full of half-assed explanations about simultaneously tossing coins on either side of a door and infinite hotels in which only the even-numbered rooms were occupied. But chaos theory is great because it reintroduces uncertainty into the universe, and frankly, that can only be a good thing. It’s all about random periodicity, apparently; that is, knowing that something will recur but being unable to tell precisely when — a sensation familiar to all teenage boys.
Incidentally, how do you identify an extrovert mathematician? He looks at your shoes when he’s talking to you.
Anyway, last Friday in HGS was rather noisy. “It’s not very conducive to intelligent conversation,” I hollered above the din. “Neither are you,” came the instant response. Fair enough, but I have compiled a list of songs you don’t want to play if you’re having sex: “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me,” “I Am the Walrus,” “Come On, Eileen,” “It’s All Over Now,” “Oops I Did It Again,” “Don’t You Want Me,” “It’s A Sin.”
“You deconstruct the established way of reading and looking, and you create a new style of magazine that materializes more as an exhibition sited in the interstices of the real and the conceptual.” This is beyond parody, isn’t it? But it’s grad school mag, “Palimpsest,” so take it up with the editors if you have a problem.
From my position here in scene, cheek by jowl with Robby Schrum — and he and I have something else in common, apart from being Midwestern, in that we’ve both appeared on nationally beloved quiz shows, he on “Jeopardy” and I on “University Challenge” (and doesn’t the difference in titles tell you so much about our respective countries?) — from my position in scene, the section with the attractive lower-case name, I can imperiously survey the Yale zeitgeist with an aquiline Tenneysonian gaze, as I told one of my most extraordinary friends as we sipped martinis on the balcony cafe at the Met, he being temporarily marooned in New York having most uncharacteristically — but chaotically — lost his passport.
Heisenberg is driving down the freeway and is pulled over by the police. “Do you know how fast you were going?” demands the cop. “No,” replies Heisenberg, “but I knew exactly where I was.”
Although I pay taxes here, I’m not allowed to vote. What happened to no taxation without representation? I’m tempted to start a revolution once I’ve finished my term papers. If I could vote I’d be drawn towards the Democrats on principle, but I keep being put off by Democrats.
A most impressive chaotic experience was that of my friend Matt, whose spring break trip to Prague involved Air India, air sickness, air rage and being pinched in the back by small Slavic women. I just can’t compete with that.
We should all embrace chaos: look where it got Jackson Pollock. Love is essentially chaotic, in the best possible sense, but it may just be the most important Thing we have. And remember: when feeling down, lie on your back with your paws in the air. The world looks very different then.
Finally, good luck to the class of ’04. If I had only one piece of advice for you, this would be it: once you’ve left Yale, you don’t ever have to feel guilty about working for an investment bank. After all, you may get the same crushing stabs of futility and pointlessness as those of us doing a Ph.D., but you do get a hell of a lot more money.
Nick Baldock has recently embraced, and is now gently nibbling the ear of, chaos.