Gypsy Math

Nov 6, 2012 by     Comments Off on Gypsy Math    Posted under: Adam Drew This, Brian Wrote This
When I sent “Fogbound” to Adam to maybe do a sketch, he got caught on a throwaway line of dialogue. The result was him doing (and drawing) six or eight generations’ worth of math while on a major board deadline.

In Fogbound, my narrator mentions that he’s familiar with the supernatural in part because he used to date a tarot reader who claimed she was one-third gypsy. It is generally not considered possible to be one-third anything by heritage, so Adam sent me this illustration, along with the ones that actually ran with Fogbound‘s two parts.

At the office, I then started doing the math, too, going back through exponential generations until I thought I saw the way:  two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grands, then 16, 32, 64, and then your great-great-great-great-great grandparents would number 132, divisible by three, and therefore if in that generation you had 44 full-blooded Roma ancestors, and no more married into the family, you’d be one third gypsy.  Unlikely scenario, but I felt my math was sound.

It wasn’t.  Turns out 64 doubles into 128, not 134.  Alas.  I could go back further, but I think there are more complications involved in this idea than the idea is worth.

I stole that gag, anyway.  From the oldest story: In the Sumerian version of Gilgamesh, he is said to be one-third man and two-thirds god.  Scholars will tell you that this was a joke (from, it must be noted, what seems a singularly humorless culture).  Because the ancient Sumerians were better at math than I am, they knew that no one could be one-third anything, and therefore it made the whole story an obvious tall tale.

So there you have it. Bad math and a storyteller’s inherent bullshitting earns us another piece of pretty art.  Now I just have to write a story with that tarot reader …

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