Reflections on two narratives

This blog has just finished two long runs on single topics — first a suite of exercises in computer graphics for non-programmers, and then the first book of a Paleolithic magical realist saga. So this seems like a good moment for a little reflection.

Unlike you, I have first-hand knowledge of the relationship between this blog and my life. The two are not independent — each one influences the other, and those influences run in both directions.

I took up the challenge of teaching computer graphics to non-programmers just before beginning a semester class teaching computer graphics to undergraduates. Putting that series of lessons up on-line allowed me to view this familiar topic with fresh eyes, as though I was just learning about it myself.

The story of Ilara was, similarly, a reflection of an event in another part of my life. My colleagues and I at NYU are currently developing an ambitious virtual reality theater piece. Our VR story centers on events that occur a generation later, and the main character is Ilara’s daughter. By writing the first book of this saga, I was able to better understand the world of that story.

Perhaps the thread that best ties together these two narratives can be expressed by that old maxim: If you really want to understand something better, try teaching it to somebody else.

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