Dead Lands

“I used to watch a film you may have seen. Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land (1959) played repeatedly through parts of my childhood, interrupted only by the winding of tape. The plot is almost hallucinogenic. A sailor-capped duck travels back to ancient Greece in search of geometric origins. He encounters a group of pre-Socratic philosophers who teach him the diatonic scale. Clad in kotinosand Tyrian purple, Donald congas an amphora beside Pythagoras, who walks the bass. It is a lesson in the mathematical harmony of acoustic intervals. The distance between notes becomes the space between lines, as the jam session dissolves into a montage of golden spirals, rectangles. Unlikely affiliates find structural symmetry. We watch as the Parthenon, star jasmine, Notre Dame, snowflakes, and Mona Lisa’s face overlap across the screen. The film ends with an indelible image—a corridor extending into infinity. The duck waddles towards the hallway’s vanishing point, opening doors along the way. Eventually the knobs cease turning. ‘The boundless treasures of science are locked behind those doors’, explains an unseen narrator. ‘In time they will be opened by the curious and inquiring minds of future generations…”