Thursday, January 31, 2013

Stauskas: A Romance of Many Dimensions

Chapter 16. How the Stranger Vainly Endeavoured to Reveal to Me in Words the Mysteries of Spaceland

From dreams I proceed to facts.

It was the last day of the first month of the 2013th year of our era. The patterning of the rain had long ago announced nightfall; and I was sitting in the company of my wife, musing on the events of the past and the prospects of the coming months, the coming year, the coming Tournament.

Straightway I became conscious of a Presence in the arena, and a chilling breath thrilled through my very being. Looking around in every direction I could see nothing; yet still I FELT a Presence, and shivered as the cold whisper came again. I started up. There was nothing; and I resumed my seat, again exclaiming, "The boy is a fool, I say; a Two-Point Shot can have no meaning in Basketball." At once there came a distinctly audible reply, "The boy is not a fool; and a Two-Point Shot has an obvious Basketball meaning."

Desperate with fear, I rushed forward to the Stranger with an unceremonious, "You must permit me, Sir—" and felt him. There was not the trace of an angle, not the slightest roughness or inequality: never in my life had I met with a more perfect Circle. He remained motionless while I walked around him, beginning from his eye and returning to it again. Circular he was throughout, a perfectly satisfactory Circle; there could not be a doubt of it. Then followed a dialogue, which I will endeavour to set down as near as I can recollect it, omitting only some of my profuse apologies—for I was covered with shame and humiliation that I, a Square, should have been guilty of the impertinence of feeling a Circle. It was commenced by the Stranger with some impatience at the lengthiness of my introductory process.

Stranger: Have you felt me enough by this time? Are you not introduced to me yet?

I: Sir, excuse my awkwardness, which arises not from ignorance, but from a little surprise and nervousness. Would my Lordship deign to satisfy the curiosity of one who would gladly know whence his Visitor came?

Stranger: From Space, from Space, Sir: whence else?

I: Pardon me, my Lord, but is not your Lordship already in Space, your Lordship and his humble servant, even at this moment?

Stranger: Pooh! What do you know of Space? Define Space.

I: Space, my Lord, is the ability to make Three-Point Shots, infinitely prolonged.

Stranger: Exactly: you see you do not even know what Space is. You think it is of One Dimension only; but I have come to announce to you More: three-point shots, backdoor cuts, assists, and stout defense.
Via MGoBlog, Obviously.
I: Your Lordship is pleased to be merry. We also speak of open or contested Shots, of short Threes or long Threes, thus denoting One Dimension with four names.

Stranger: But I mean not many names, but Many Dimensions.

I: Would your Lordship indicate or explain to me in what direction are these Many Dimensions, unknown to me?

Stranger: I come from them. It is near the baseline, or in the paint, or near your own Basket.

I: My Lord means seemingly that it is to the Right Side or the Left Side along the Three-Point Line.

Stranger: I mean nothing of the kind. I mean a direction in which you cannot look, because you have no eye to look Beyond your Pre-Defined Narratives.

I: Pardon me, my Lord, a moment's inspection will convince your Lordship that I have a perfect luminary exactly Twenty Feet and Nine Inches from the Basket.

Stranger: Yes, but in order to see Many Dimensions you ought to have an eye, not on the Perimeter, but near the baseline, that is, on what you would probably call inside the Three-Point Line.

I: A Shot from inside the Three-Point Line? Your Lordship jests.

Stranger: I am in no jesting humour. I tell you that I come from Space, or, since you will not understand what Space means, from the Land of Many Dimensions whence I but lately looked upon your Three-Point Line which you call Space forsooth. From that position of advantage I discerned all that you speak of as Solid Play (by which you mean "Capable of Making a High Percentage of Three-Point Shots"), all lying open as exposed to my view.

I: Such assertions are easily made, my Lord.

Stranger: But not easily proven, you mean. But I intend to prove mine. What do you know of Basketball? How many points is a Field Goal worth?

I (afraid this stranger may be Jim Harrick, Jr., in disguise): Three, Your Lordship.

Stranger: You do not even know what a Field Goal is. Forty-Two times this Season has a Field Goal been attempted from next to the Rim of the Basket, and Eighteen more times has a Jump Shot been attempted that is worth only Two Points.

I: I must indeed confess that I do not in the least understand your Lordship. When we see a Shot, we see accuracy and DISTANCE. If the distance disappears, the Shot is extinguished, and, as you say, ceases to occupy Space. But am I to suppose that your Lordship gives the distance the title of a Dimension, and that what we call "a lack of distance" you call "Two Points"?

Stranger: (TO HIMSELF) How shall I convince him? Surely a plain statement of facts ought to suffice. —Now, Sir; listen to me. As of January 23, the Michigan Basketball Team had run a Ball Screen with Nik Stauskas Thirty-Three times. In those Thirty-Three Attempts, a Mean Value of One Point Six One Points were scored. In stead of shooting a Three-Point Shot on each of those Occasions, he frequently passed the Basketball to a teammate for an easy Assist, or he Drove to the Basket for Two Points. I say to you, there is a Shot called a "Dunk." And Nik Stauskas is quite capable of performing this Feat.
Original Illustration via
Every reader in Spaceland will easily understand that my mysterious Guest was speaking the language of truth and even of simplicity. But to me, proficient though I was in Three-Point Mathematics, it was by no means a simple matter. The rough diagram given above will make it clear to any Spaceland child that the Sphere, ascending in the three positions indicated there, must needs have manifested himself to me, or to any Flatlander, as a Circle going through the Rim, at first of full size, then small, and at last very small indeed, approaching to a Point. But to me, although I saw the facts before me, the causes were as dark as ever. All that I could comprehend was, that the Circle had made himself smaller and vanished far from my Home on the Three-Point Line, and that he had now re-appeared and was rapidly making himself larger.

"Monster," I shrieked, "be thou juggler, enchanter, dream, or devil, no more will I endure thy mockeries. Either thou or I must perish." And saying these words I Charged myself upon him, and the Play was Blown Dead.

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