Nobody Really Understands Me

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Nobody Really Understands Me

Look, I really don't have all that much to complain about. I'm well respected. I'm considered quite elegant in my own way. And, in certain circles, I'm seen as quite a romantic and mysterious set of figures. But despite all this, sometimes I still can't help feeling like no one truly understands me.

As theorems go, I seem simple enough: The equation xn + yn = zn, where n represents a whole number greater than two, has no solution. That's me in a nutshell. But for some reason, I'm still a mystery to everyone. Men have devoted their entire lives trying to figure me out, and I guess that should make me feel better. But it doesn't.

Most of them just wanted to fool around with me a little and then move on. Like that jerk Yarosh. He went out of his way to prove me for n=2. But that's not what I'm all about. Do you have any idea how that made me feel? It was so incredibly degrading. Would you want to be proven for just n=2 and nothing else? Of course not.

Did Yarosh, Cauchy or Kummer—or even Euler, for that matter—care that I was French? Or that I was born in 1637 in Castres? Okay, Euler might have. At first, he seemed different from the others. He'd spend every waking moment thinking about me. Oh, how that made me feel! But understand me? No. In the end, he was just like the rest, interested only in what I could do for his career.

And don't even talk to me about Andrew Wiles. Sure, in 1994, he proved me. But that's not the same thing as understanding me, as truly knowing what makes me tick. Did he once, in the 30 years he was obsessed with me, ask me what kind of music I liked? Or my favorite color? No. And in the end, he used that easy Taniyama-Shimura conjecture to get to me. That hurt. It reduced a big part of me to a semi-stable case. And in all that time, the only time he ever spoke directly to me was late at night when he'd been working too hard, and I think he was embarrassed about it afterwards.

No, Andrew Wiles didn't truly understand me. Not the way I want to be understood. He just wanted to see what complex elliptical curvatures he could derive from me. To hell with Andrew Wiles. I haven't heard a word from him in five years, and I really don't care. He's probably off solving the three-body problem using odd natural numbers, if you know what I mean. He's into that sort of stuff.

And so what if someone "proved" me? If people really care about you, they don't need proof. They trust their feelings, and, in doing so, find out what you're really all about.

Late at night, when you're alone with a mathematician, that's when they hurt you the worst. They say they want to understand you so very badly, but they never stop to ask you how. So many times, I wanted to scream, "Just look at me! Put down all those computations and think about me for a change!"

That's how they all are, though. They use all kinds of fancy explanations, all kinds of advanced reasoning to figure you out, but they never actually get to know you. I mean, I realize I'm not the easiest theorem in the world to understand, but I hardly think I'm impossible. The Pythagorean theorem and I are very close, and he says many 10-year-olds understand him. I don't know, maybe it gets easier when you get to be his age.

I know I can't give up hope. But I also know I can't rely on imaginary numbers to make me complete, either. That's just not the kind of theorem I am. Deep down, I've got some really complex variables. There may be no solution for me for whole numbers greater than two, but I've learned to live with that. All I need is one, just one person who truly understands me, and I'll finally consider myself a complete, happy, balanced equation. Someday...


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