I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


I’d never heard of the movie Proof until recently. I saw it while browsing Netflix and the story line (from Yahoo! movies) intrigued me:

“On the eve of her twenty-seventh birthday, Catherine, a young woman who has spent years caring for her brilliant but unstable father, a mathematical genius named Robert, must deal not only with the arrival of her estranged sister, Claire, but also with the attentions of Hal, a former student of her father’s who hopes to find valuable work in the 103 notebooks of Robert’s. As Catherine confronts Hal’s affections and Claire’s overbearing plans for her life, she struggles to solve the most perplexing problem of all: How much of her father’s madness—or genius—will she inherit?”

103 notebooks. Can you imagine leaving such a legacy? But of course, the hardest thing for Catherine to swallow was that it seemed to be mostly the garbled ramblings of somebody who was in the midst of going mad. Partway through the story, we learn that she’s every bit the mathematical genius that her father was—and maybe even more so. We also learn that she fears she may suffer from the same mental illness. And the viewer is left wondering the same thing.

Then we learn that she wrote a particular proof that baffles the minds of current mathematicians, but she wanted her dad to get the credit so she put it in his desk and locked it—knowing it would be found and in some way, it would make her dad seem less crazy to a world who used to look up to him. Somewhere in the process though, she lost herself. The proof was discovered and mathematicians questioned who the author might be. Some of the theories were too new for her father to have mastered given his condition.

So Catherine admits that she wrote it, but at first, nobody believes her. They think she’s going mad as well. Eventually Hal believers her and he wants to make amends. I love the way he did it. Here’s a brief exchange between them, during which they speak about the proof, but so much more:

“It was like connecting the dots,” she said. “Some nights I could connect three or four of them. Some nights they’d be really far apart. I’d have no idea how to get to the next one—if there was the next one. It just seems really stitched together and lumpy. Dad’s stuff was way more elegant.”

“Talk me through it,” Hal said. “Tell me what’s bothering you.”

I love this insight by Hal. He understood that be digging into something she created, that he’d find out what was really bothering her. He recognized that the creation was truly part of the creator and that by talking to the creator about her creation, he’d know her much better.

How many people do you have in your life who are willing to “talk you through” the things that you invest your heart and soul into? How many people are you willing to go that deep with? Living in the peripherals of life isn't satisfying. But going deeper takes time and commitment and too many of us aren't willing to do it.

And that is sort of sad.


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