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e + 1 = 0

This is the most beautiful equation in mathematics. Two irrational numbers, one non-real number, the addition identity (0), and the multiplicative identity, all evolved into a single equation, all working together.

Call it order out of chaos. Call it part of Taylor’s Law. I call it art.

And art needs to be shown to the public, right? That is why I created this piece of art. But before I begin to credit myself for this lovely work, I must give credit to those who have helped me make it possible.

First is my wife. She and I loved each other, bonded together by the everlasting chains of matrimony. Alas, these chains involved keys belonging to those in its captivity, and she used her key of divorce lawyers, papers, and other bland subjects to try to escape. I know not what brought this about – human irrationality, perhaps? This is exactly why I needed her help in my artwork. At first, she refused. However, I convinced her to painlessly accept. In the end, she didn’t have a single complaint.

Next are my two daughters, Tabitha and May. They fought with each other, and they fought with my wife and me. Naturally, there was a lot of chaos in this household before their help in my work, but afterwards, they could not have been better behaved. Again, call it order out of chaos.

The next three are students of mine. Yes! Before I become famous for my works, I had another job to put food on the table. This temporary position for me was a professor of mathematics at a small liberal arts college. One day, three students informed me that they were intending to change subjects.

Why? I asked them.

Because we don’t get math in of itself. What is the point of it? they responded.

Do you wish to see mathematics become more… ah, beautiful?

They didn’t understand at first. I didn’t expect them to. However, I didn’t need their understanding – a bullet in their brains sufficed.

I needed to kill all my canvases as painlessly as possible – why have them die with a look of terror? Where is the beauty in that? Rather, they should be giving blank, slightly surprised expressions in their final moments; my two children had slight smiles, even. They had gone in their sleep.

Now, how does this relate to my artwork? As I had said before, they (or more specifically, their midsections) were my canvas, their blood was the medium, and my knife was the brush. My wife was the e (the base of it all) and my daughters were the exponents, “i” and “pi”. My students are the “+”, the “1”, and the “=”. None of them objected to their role as canvas and medium, nor did they object to hang from their necks, displaying their exposed torsos.

It is funny how rational human beings are when in death – in fact, only in death are they organized. Not chaotic. No resistance. No lack of understanding the beauty of e + 1 = 0.

It is the cold lifelessness of e + 1 = 0 that makes it organized and not chaotic, like a human. No matter what my feelings are, e + 1 still equals zero.

Now, you must be asking yourself, who is the 0? You must be saying that; any other thoughts would be… illogical and chaotic.

The “0” is me. I am the center of this system (as 0 is the center of the real number system.) I am the placeholder; I am the final number in a countdown. It all ends with me. Essentially, the zero is my self-portrait.

As I am cutting myself open, I hear a loud rapping on my front door. It's the police; the neighbors have always suspected me of doing something heinously wrong, and called my first audience over to investigate.

Very well.

I finished my self-portrait, tightened the noose, and stepped off the stool. I saw the cops break down the heavy wooden door; I saw their frightened faces when they witnessed my work of art. It was the last thing I saw.

All I can say is that their emotions are preventing them from seeing the beauty in my work. No matter what it looks like, e + 1 always equals 0.


Written by Daltsch
Originally uploaded on September 19th, 2011
Content is available under CC BY-SA