“On the way to trying to understand the nature of the cube, I changed my mind,” Rubik said. “What really interested me was not the nature of the cube, but the nature of people, the relationship between people and the cube.”
Reading “Cubed” can be a strange, disorienting experience, one that’s analogous to picking up and twisting one of his cubes. It lacks a clear narrative structure or arc — an effect that’s deliberate, Rubik said. Initially, he didn’t even want the book to have chapters or even a title.
“I had several ideas, and I thought to share this mixture of ideas that I have in my mind and leave it to the reader to find out which ones are valuable,” he said. “I am not taking your hands and walking you on this route. You can start at the end or in the middle.”
Or you can start at the beginning.
Erno Rubik was born on July 13, 1944, about a month after D-Day, in the basement of a Budapest hospital that had become an air-raid shelter. His father was an engineer who designed aerial gliders.
As a boy, Rubik loved to draw, paint and sculpt. He studied architecture at the Budapest University of Technology, then studied at the College of Applied Arts. He became obsessed with geometric patterns. As a professor, he taught a class called descriptive geometry, which involved teaching students to use two-dimensional images to represent three-dimensional shapes and problems. It was an odd and esoteric field, but it prepared him to develop the cube.
In the spring of 1974, when he was 29, Rubik was in his bedroom at his mother’s apartment, tinkering. He describes his room as resembling the inside of a child’s pocket, with crayons, string, sticks, springs and scraps of paper scattered across every surface. It was also full of cubes he made, out of paper and wood.