1968: BE THE THING!

Making It Strange #4 (1968)

An exercise from Making It Strange #4, a workbook for elementary school students published by Harper & Row in 1968:

BE ZERO AND SEE THE WORLD

Simple things often seem dull
until you get inside them and think the way they do….
In this lesson you will use BEING THE THING
to see the number ZERO in a new way.
As ZERO you have specific uses and a unique shape.
Here are some of the ways you are used:

In the number “101” you are a place holder.
In the problem “One minus one equals?”
you are the answer, “ZERO.”
In the problem “ZERO times ZERO equals?”
you are the answer, “ZERO.”
Even when you are an important answer,
you still amount to nothing

On the lines below, describe yourself as ZERO. BE ZERO and see the world.

lines

In this lesson,
the best way to get to know ZERO is to BE it.
Close your eyes and imagine
that your whole body is in the shape of ZERO.
You have leaned over backwards
and grabbed your feet with your hands.

How do the muscles of your body feel in this position?

lines

What are your Zero-muscles doing?

lines

As ZERO, you have your own idea about how you should look.Zero
A clumsy person writes you in a messy way.
After he finishes, you look like this:

 

 

How do you feel about that?

lines

What parts of your body
work hardest to get you back to your proper shape?

lines

A student has answered the problem of “7 times 3” with “20.”
He sees that you don’t belong there and erases you.
What does this experience feel like?

lines

Where do you go after you are erased?

lines

Write a story about being ZERO.
ZERO times 100 equals ZERO.
ZERO plus 100 equals 100.
By sneaking yourself into places, you can play arithmetic jokes.
Tell about the jokes you play.
BE THE THING! Be ZERO!

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