Why Man Creates – Memory of a Movie

I attended high school from fall of 1969 through the spring of 1973.  In that four years, I was shown the movie Why Man Creates two or three times (I’m really leaning towards the three).  It is a strange flick and most of it I only vaguely remember.

I do, however, vividly remember one long sequence.  I do no so much remember what all was in the sequence, but I remember what it looked like.  The conceit was that we are looking at one long continuous sheet of paper scrolling across the frame top to bottom.  As the paper scrolls, a pencil point enters the frame and draws (very quickly) illustrating the history of mankind.

I can still remember the dark ages going by as the pencil draws tall towers with arched shuttered windows.  Then one shutter opens up and a man leans out and says “Egads!!  I’ve invented the zero!”.  Another shutter nearby opens and a man leans out and says “What?”.  The first man responds with “Nothing.  Nothing.”

I am a big lover of puns and I thought that was great.  I’ve always remembered it.  Or did I?

As you can see, the movie does not quite conform to my memory.

The nerve.

I see that I took my favorite “dialogue” from the movie and inserted it into the memorable sequence (the pencil sketching). Then I forgot all about Allah and substituted “Egads!”. Those two things combined gave credit for the discovery of zero to the wrong culture.   This memory persisted even though I knew better regarding where the credit lay.

This makes me wonder about the veracity of my clear memory of writing the song American Pie. I’m sure McLean stole it from me….

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My Time to Waste