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dowel-and-fishing-line augmented tensegrity six-fold prism
          study with three-fold symmetry

Toward the beginning of Part 2 of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust, a scene (Laboratorium) finds Wagner in Faust's laboratory. Mephistopheles enters and quickly learns, "Es wird ein Mensch gemacht." (A human is being made.) Or more accurately, a human is being conceived. At that point, though he's pretty talkative, Homunculus remains trapped in the flask that composes his womb and quickly departs in search of a way to complete the process of his birth. This finally happens in the Aegean Sea in the presence of a whole host of nymphs, gods, goddesses and what have you. As the panel entitled "The Marriage of Fire and Water II: Evolution and the Origins of Life" from the Goethe-Institut's panel exhibition Synthetic Vision: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Poet and Scientist* puts it:

Faust constantly returns to the creative interplay of elements at the border between ideal and real, between eternal and temporal. The most explicit and triumphant marriage of fire and water takes place on the shores of the Aegean Sea beneath a timeless moon: in an act of primal creation the waves are transfigured as the fire of Homunculus, a disembodied spirit created in Faust's laboratory by his assistant Wagner with the help of Mephistopheles, unites with the flowing dark sea at the feet of the goddess Galatea. This marriage of elemental opposites is the necessary first step into the world of time and change, of birth and rebirth through which Homunculus will mutate through "thousands and thousands of forms" until he finally becomes human.

What does all this have to do with this prism study? Well, as I found once I had assembled it, this study is the realization of a quote cited in the above-mentioned panel taken from the end of the second act of Part 2 of Faust:

So herrsche denn Eros, der alles begonnen!
Heil dem Meere! Heil den Wogen,
Von dem heiligen Feuer umzogen!
Heil dem Wasser! Heil dem Feuer!
Heil dem seltnen Abenteuer!

 
Let Eros then rule, creator of all!
Hail the ocean! Hail the waves,
Enwreathed in holy fire!
Hail the water! Hail the fire!
Hail the entire rare adventure!

The girdling of the six-fold prism with the red triangle of struts reduces it's symmetry to three fold. This reduction introduces an undulation in the ends of the prism which furthers even more the identification of the prism with water.

I completed assembly of this study on February 3, 2004. The clearances are about at my minimum level for acceptance. If you look carefully at the photo, you can see there's about one strut width of clearance between one of the prism struts and one of the girdle struts. For assembly information, see the datasheet.

This design and structure are dedicated to the memory of Beeke Sell Tower.


*An introduction to the intellectual scope and scientific pursuits of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, this panel exhibition was first made available for use by colleges and libraries in 1999. Inquiries can be directed to the Goethe-Institut Boston. See also “Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von” in Encylopaedia Britannica.


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