Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Pith of Pythagorean

There is a meme floating around the Internet that goes something to the effect of:

Another day of life, Another day I never used Algebra.

I get it, algebra is useless.

The same can probably be said of Organic Chemistry, Roman Mythology and Wood Shop.

Truth is, we learned a lot of shit in high school and college that has very little application in real life.

I've always contended there should be more hands on courses like Navigating Marriage 101, Introduction to Pleasing Your Parents, and Advanced Leave Daddy Alone, but that's another blog, for a later date.

Surprisingly there is one course that has come in very useful in my career as an advertising copywriter: Geometry.

I'll explain why.

You're all familiar with the Pythagorean Theorem that states the sum of the squares of the sides of a right triangle equals the square of the hypotenuse. Or:

But did you know there are more than 400 ways to prove this particular theorem?

Proving theorems accounts for the majority of most Geometry classes. I didn't know it at the time but the practice of laying out a theorem proof could be the most useful skill I obtained in four years of high schooling. That, and the proper selection of underarm deodorant.

Constructing a proof, whether it's Pythagorean or the countless other theorems, requires a discipline, logic and sometimes even creative flair. In many ways it's the same thought process that goes into writing a screenplay, an ad or even a blog post.

There's a beginning, an exploratory middle and a satisfying conclusion.

Properly executed, it's precise and persuasive.

When you do enough of them you can begin to find art and unexpected elegance in every proof.

I don't use Algebra every day, but I do put my Geometry skills to use every time I step up to the keyboard. Clacking away with the hope that I will deliver something compelling, articulate and insightful.

Clearly today was not one of those days.

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