b a c k      b a c k (a r t)

The heptagon

‘Seven is a popular number, and especially it was a favourite with Miss Amelia. Seven swallows of water for hiccups, seven runs around the millpond for cricks in the neck, seven doses of Amelia Miracle Mover as a worm cure–her treatment nearly always hinged on this number. It is a number of mingled possibilities, and all who love mystery and charms set store by it.’
      – Carson McCullers: The ballad of the Sad Café

In that bible of Victorian Theosophy, Helena Blavatsky’s ‘Secret Doctrine’, is a line drawn from the precepts of Euclid’s Elements that states: ‘the construction of a mathematically perfect heptagon is impossible’. In the ’70s, John Michel, in one of the essential reference works of the mystical geometer City of Revalation restates the same problem: ‘No one can draw a mathematically perfect heptagon. It is a secret that, as Blavatsky puts it “has not been revealed”.

At nineteen I was naïve enough to take that as a challenge and I set to, armed like the geometricians of ancient Greece, with straight edge, compass and pencil, in an eager attempt to disprove her assertion…

I'm interested…