ACETATE SHEET WITH SUM

Perri MacKenzie, 2011, 32 x 23 cm

Recently I attempted to work through a long division problem, live, on an overhead projector in front of an audience. The idea was to demonstrate the two-fold process of “setting up” a situation, then “letting it run,” but in a fit of nerves I forgot the sum I’d taken considerable care to memorize. As the pen squeaked and slipped over the acetate it seemed that the memorized answer and the memorized working-out had fallen out of sync. Although I knew the result had a repeating decimal 3, I couldn’t manage to contrive its existence. Finally, in confusion and frustration, I just wrote “etc.” and pushed on with the rest of the talk. Someone later pointed out that this fumbled sum was actually useful in engaging the audience. They were suddenly complicit.

(“Δ,” Perri MacKenzie, Bulletins of The Serving Library #2, 2011)