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A Very Elemental Life

Naveen Sunkavally

Two mornings ago, at 3:46 a.m, I awoke with my head in a pool of blood. And a certain sextuplet of verses by Oscar Wilde were running through my head:

He did wear his scarlet coat,

For blood and wine are red,

And blood and wine were on his hands,

When they found him with the dead,

The poor old woman whom he loved,

And murdered in her bed.

My pillow was damp, my hair and beard were wet, and my shirt was drenched. It took me a while to figure out that it wasn't water, that there wasn't a leak in my roof. If you've ever bit your lip and tasted your blood, you know that blood is slightly basic - that it has a pH reading of approximately 7.5 - and at that reading, I finally was able to distinguish blood from water.

I managed my way to the bathroom, and there, I was able to discern that I was suffering from a simple nosebleed. It took a while for the blood to finally stop, and, after it stopped, the sink was in a nice, spiralling, speckled pattern of red and white with the vertex at the drain.

Ironically, at the time of my nosebleed, I was also having a dream that I was being murdered. I had watched the movie The Truman Show at LSC the night before, and in my dream, I was being murdered by Jim Carrey on a boat with waves lashing all about us.

Last Friday, while taking my 6.002 quiz, I was writing away with my head faced down towards my paper, when I heard it coming: drip, drip, drip, drip, drip and it felt the scene from Jurassic Park when the water in the cup plops up and down in the car as the footsteps of the Tyrannosaurus Rex grew louder and louder.

I ran out of the room with my hand pinching my nose trying to keep my insides in while outside the rain was falling about. Everything seemed so peaceful, the atmosphere so hollow - people were walking back and forth - and I was running around like a madman with my finger up my nose and my head arched upwards trying to keep all hell from breaking loose. I finally found a water fountain, and after I cleaned up, the fountain sink was a nice, spiralling, speckled pattern of red and silver.

The afternoon of the day I went to The Truman Show it was raining, and I spent it at the Museum of Fine Arts. A kind lady in front of me in line was kind enough to get me in for free. It took me about an hour and a half to realize that half of the objects contained in that one place were more than two hundred years old - some thousands of years old - and that realization caught me by surprise. I spent at least an hour staring at Egyptian masks and the busts of Roman emperors, trying to discern some sort of special meaning from those stone casements.

Later on, I was viewing a particular painting in the "Reflections on Monet" section of the museum. It was a painting by Monet of the meadows at Giverny, and like most Monets, everything seems dazzling and sparkling when close, but transfixed in elemental colors of orange, green, and blue when viewed from afar. Later on, I found another painting of a diamond by someone I can't remember, and when that painting was viewed from afar, one could see the spiraling blues, yellows, and oranges within the diamond. And some verses by Keats were running through my head:

"Beauty is truth, and truth beauty" - that is all

ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

I had a very elemental life this weekend. Everything seemed defined in broad brush strokes of red and blue and green and orange. Blood, water, earth, fire - everything I saw seemed to composed of distinct elemental things. It was a surreal experience, and I'm not quite sure if there's any internal meaning to discern. Everyone has these types of experiences, and no one can be sure what it all means.