In the beginning was the line. You don’t believe me? Go back a thump your Bible for a minute. King James, Genesis: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And what was between the heaven and the earth? Nothing? Don’t talk nonsense; you don’t separate two things with nothing. There was a line there. Read on: God divided the light from the darkness. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. ‘Firmament’ is just a fancy word for a line. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. This is God drawing lines in the cosmos…and it was good. A firmament is a surface. God called it heaven.
The line is one of the stables of art. Study drawing, sculpture, painting, architecture and the first thing they will tell you about is about the line.
Boundary lines, borders, lines in the sand, thresholds, furrows to plant the crops—the plow, after all, simply cut a line in the soil—good fences good neighbors make: poetry is made up of lines; there used to be an old TV show called ‘What’s My Line?’ where you had to guess the guest’s job—or was it his identity? People have opening lines, pickup lines; imaginary lines go around the globe; manufactures have clothing lines, and clothes used to be put on lines to dry.
And then there’s math: A line is the shortest distance between two points. A line divides two surfaces. A geometrical object that is straight, infinitely long and infinitely thin. ‘Infinitely thin’. Imagine. The world changed when we decided that parallel lines could meet. Somewhere. You recreate the third dimension by drawing lines that meet at focal points.
And then there’s…what’s your sign? One of the great lines. Read the rest of this entry »