Thursday, January 06, 2011


It was Thohira's birthday yesterday. That got me thinking.

I miss studying logic. We did a semester course in our first and second year called Discrete Structures. It was considered one of the lighter courses and consisted of, to my dismay, no more than 2 1 hour lectures a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) and a 2 hour practical roughly every second Friday. It wasn't significant to many students, but I think I speak for more than one cartoon hero when I say it was by far the most enjoyable course we did.

Lecturers. Mmm.
We spent a considerable amount of time guessing what our lecturer's first name was. His accent was muddled, his approach to teaching was fresh and he started every single lecture by greeting us with a goofy half smile and a, "Morning, guys." All that we were provided with was a "JV van Zyl" which led to us strictly referring to him as "JV". I don't know if it was JV or the content, or the harmonious relationship between the two, but there was something about this course that made computer science feel like something more than just code and assembly. Like there was a philosophy behind all the strict rules, or a logic that, even though its made up of hard and fast rules, it feels less robotic.

Of all the mind numbing oil and canvas (don't tell Zaheera) that we saw in Europe on our tour in June 2010, there was one that's always stuck with me. In the palace of Versailles, in a room called the Grand Cabinet, there was a painting on the ceiling of Mercury scattering the influence of the sciences on the arts (represented by pretty ladies sitting around apparently doing nothing, but probably thinking about life). I like this idea of a healthy balance of left and right brained -ness.

I'd like to think of the coming together of these different schools of thought as poetic. I'd like to use phrases like "you are the yin to my yang" and "I am the Mercury to your Venus or someone" but I won't, simply because it would sound pretentious and I truly believe that the real key to being successful in this life is to know just how much sense of humour to have about every aspect of it. Including love and relationships and all that.

My favourite cartoon hero is the Zen embodiment of the concept I'm trying to illustrate. Thohira is complicated as well as simple. Sensible, but also impulsively crazy. Precise but so random. I have a vivid memory of JV emphasising how, in mathematics but simply means and. This Modus Tollens goes out to you, stups.

Happy birthday, Thohira.