Sunday, July 10, 2005

The polymathic Piet Hein was an artist and mathematician. He invented the game of Hex, created a unique puzzle called the Soma cube and also is the father of an entirely new geometric entity - the SuperEllipse, as seen in Sergels Torg:

Man is the animal that draws lines which he himself then stumbles over. In the whole pattern of civilization there have been two tendencies, one toward straight lines and rectangular patterns and one toward circular lines. There are reasons, mechanical and psychological, for both tendencies. Things made with straight lines fit well together and save space. And we can move easily — physically or mentally — around things made with round lines. But we are in a straitjacket, having to accept one or the other, when often some intermediate form would be better. To draw something freehand — such as the patchwork traffic circle they tried in Stockholm — will not do. It isn't fixed, isn't definite like a circle or square. You don't know what it is. It isn't esthetically satisfying. The super-ellipse solved the problem. It is neither round nor rectangular, but in between. Yet it is fixed, it is definite — it has a unity.

—Piet Hein

But, Piet Hein for me and for many others is best loved and remembered as the father of grooks:

consolation grook

Losing one glove
is certainly painful,
but nothing
compared to the pain,
of losing one,
throwing away the other,
and finding
the first one again.

what love is like

Love is like
a pineapple,
sweet and

Grook to warn the universe against megalomania

The universe may be as great as they say.
But it wouldn't be missed if it didn't exist

A grook is a short aphorism and Hien wrote thousands of them. Each one is a short statement of truth or an admonition. And most were accompanied by a small drawing or cartoon. An encylopedia of abbreviated wisdom.

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