i … not irrational, just imaginary

I had an epiphany while slaving away on thesis research. “I’m being irrational,” I said to myself. And then I realized that I was, but i isn’t. i isn’t even real!  i is imaginary! And that got me on a train of thought that is wholly irrelevant to my thesis but made me happy, because math humor does that.

But really, what does it mean to be imaginary? In architecture, we use seemingly obvious words to mean specialized or conceptual things, co-opting the English language for our own jargon to confound others. For example: That’s quite the moment, nice flow and form. Where’s the tension, the trauma? What’s the agency? Traditional is not classical – it lacks order … or rather, the orders. Capitals are stone, curtains are glass. No suit and tie to be formal, no speeches at the pedestal, no cash in the vault. Footprints don’t involve feet, scales don’t weigh, and grading involves drawing squiggly lines. Follow the narrative?

Is there a real? Is there an imaginary? Or are they part of the same system? You cannot discount the imaginary simply because it’s not real, simply because you cannot place it in relation to the line, simply because it’s not positive (it ain’t negative either). The imaginary is very much real … just not real real … it’s complex.

Need a moment?


now what?

Classes are done! At least for the next two weeks. The summer session has ended, and I have two weeks before the fall semester starts. And apparently we register a few days before classes start and everything sounds like a bit of a headache. What else? Oh, I might have a job for a few hours a week. We’ll see, it seems rather fluid and uncertain at the moment.

Saw some giant order Ionic pilasters on a building yesterday. Made me realize that one of these days I have to go to Rome. It’s hilarious to me when I see classical columns in Shanghai. It’s just so wrong.

Other random things I have noticed: Grapes here are annoying. There are no seedless grapes, so they all have seeds. And moreover, they all have to be peeled. Well, you could eat the peel, but it’s tougher than in the US and even if you wash them really well, they’re still not really really clean (especially since the water here isn’t that great). The elevators skip a heck of a lot of floors. The number 4 is considered unlucky because when pronounced in Chinese it sounds a lot like the word for death. Therefore, elevators (at least the ones in my building) skip every floor ending in 4 and the number 13, like in Western countries. It confuses me every time when I see it skip from 12 to 15. Weird, eh?

visited ECNU

Today I headed over to the university campus where I will be studying. It was pretty easy to get to and everything looks like it’ll be fine. Also went grocery shopping, bought myself some pasta (aka food I actually know how to cook) and cereal. I’d call it off-brand Froot Loops, but it’s from a German company so I’m not sure if it’s necessarily “off-brand”. Still trying to figure out the whole units of measurement over here. For instance, the cereal is 250g = 1/4 kg = 1/2 jin = .55 lb. Like my Chinese, I still have to convert things into the language I already know in order to understand. After a while hopefully I’ll become more fluent.

Ah, and I have comments now on this blog. Yay! Now if only the Celtics would win tomorrow morning I’d truly have something to celebrate.

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is reposted here for my own sake.]