The Rothko

No. 14 at SF Moma

For over five centuries the Sistine Chapel ceiling has been among the greatest things man has produced. I would give two limbs for a magnum opus of its caliber.

In contrast, the first time I saw a Rothko in my early teens, I concluded that this was the outcome of giving a child with severe OCD a set of crayons.

Over the last few weeks, amidst a very tough and frustrating period (this is far too complex for this one post) in my life, I had a chance to reflect on one of Rothko’s signature pieces and study the underlying process through a MOMA video [1]. I felt a new sense of respect for Rothko’s works. A Rothko is quite literally a metaphor for life. Our visible exterior is the product of several layers that comprise our experiences.

Rothko had a famous quote:

The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them.

It took eight years for me to have this experience. I am better off for it.

[1] The Painting Techniques of Mark Rothko: No. 16 (Red, Brown, and Black)

All It Took Was An AHA!

I can clearly recall why I became a computer scientist. I was sitting in a class and we were discussing how cons was implemented. And then I saw this definition:

(define (cons a b)
    (lambda (x)
        (if (= x 1) a b)))

(define (first l)
    (l 1))

(define (rest l)
    (l 2))

The lambda calculus and the material in the little schemer kept me in the field (computer-science i.e.) and assured me that there would never be a dearth of aha! moments in my education.

Good educators can deliver such aha! moments in every single lecture. A good textbook can do it several times each chapter.

I have since tried to find material that delivers such aha! moments.

Hopefully, I will encounter them for the rest of my life in whatever I do.

Twitter: @shriphani
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Fortior Per Mentem
(c) Shriphani Palakodety 2013-2020