# Week 12. Complex numbers

I always forget that “complex” means several things joined to make a new thing – in this case, a real and an imaginary number. And I always wonder, with so much to gain from using imaginary numbers (negative square roots!) – what is lost?

I like how imaginary numbers are bounded – how they iterate and bounce back and forth, creating their own patterns in the oscillation. How they can’t escape and tend toward infinity, how they have to keep playing cat’s cradle in the space between.

I see chain-link fences all the time, and often, I see my city through a fence protecting a beautiful area from being enjoyed by everyone. I like watching what happens around fences: vines take their climbing advantage, bits of garbage become caught and flutter like messages exchanged between worlds. Chain link is ugly until you see the tapestry it creates as it moves together and apart, over and over.

Materials: ink, gouache

I heard the ghost before I saw it – floor boards creaking under a weightless body.

Mathematics in biology and engineering combine imaginary and real numbers.  These complex numbers contain the ordinary and real but also an extension into the imaginary.  There are practical problems that cannot be solved with real numbers alone.

The ghost sat on the edge of my bed, the wood burning stove was still filling the small bunk house with heat. The ghost put one hand on my shoulder and leaned over.  I bolted up and ruined the whole thing. This was a rare night away from my young sons needing help untangling from their covers. Did she want something?  Or was she checking on me, the way she leaned down, the gentleness of it, the light touch on my shoulder, making sure I was really there.

I am working on a book. It uses both short fiction and short short nonfiction to tell a story about Italy.  I need to extend from the real into the imaginary to tell the story right.

Materials: Ruler and colored pencils. The art is based off Judy Chicago’s Optical Shapes #4, 1969. Though still living, I highly suspect Chicago is connected to the ghost.

Field note: The ghost encounter was in Brimson, MN, a rural area homesteaded by Finnish immigrants at the turn of the century, now a community of aging back-to-the-land hippies.