25 Random Things about Me
minus approximately twenty-four thingees
by Cat Hainfeld
I hate numbers.
Hate, I know, is a strong word. But they're just all...wrong. Doesn't anyone else see this?
People just made them up at some point --and different numbers for different folks, mind you: 'Anybody here like zero? No? Ok, we'll leave it out'-- and somewhere along the line we decided they were true. Somewhere along the line we stopped noticing that they don't really fit much of anything in the world (ever try to figure out how many days it's been since last Thursday?), so clearly they're not some true expression of it, but rather some half-assed attempt at description that our semi-retarded ancient brethren thought was cool. Even just the Eighties aren't cool anymore, you know? Yet people today spend all their lives and countless governmentally reorganized tax dollars (that's our money, you and me) trying to reverse engineer the universe to fit some cracked cuneiform tablet.
Let's take Pi, for example --Though first of all, if you've had the irrepressible urge/overwhelming social pressure to make a verbally-styled name for the thing before anybody's really willing to count it as existing, this should tell you something about how the world really is for humans.
But okay, Pi: So, we decided, even while preoccupied with our sub-molecular-level quest for belonging that has resulted in furry warm creatures that really just want to press up against each other, that circles are special. And they are! I don't mean to somehow impugn circles, which are wondrous in their roundness and most useful to hold nails in the wall. O great circle! And circles are very interesting to ponder, the way their sides slope evenly and everly down, at just a rate that keeps them level, never a dimple or a pimple; circles speak of stable orbits, horizons uncluttered with smilodons, and your pupil as it dilates with love. There is an undeniable sameness about circles, all of them, that has rightfully drawn our curiosity. Their clarity of being is startling --how many other things can we so simply say is and isn't about, even big important life-or-death things, the end of the world, or just my life? We all know we've found a primitive, a shiny coin of the universe.
So we might think that this is where we should start, the universe itself providing us with some simple truth about itself, a letter from the cosmic alphabet lying gamely in piles of Spagheti-O's. But instead, we're stuck on our own idea, some complicated thing that fails quite spectacularly when describing even lowly tumbling heaps of rotting turnips in the market. So, with numbers, we say that this absolute simplicity before us is not even ONE or ZERO or a pang of sweetness in my heart, but rather...
Oh, I'm sorry. There's been a technological error of some kind and...
OUR NUMBERS CANNOT DESCRIBE A FUCKING CIRCLE.
I would say that this is a good sign that our guess at a system that describes how the universe works was...WRONG. I know we've put a lot of effort into this, gotta lotta history and all, I know...but seriously, people...It's time to just LET IT GO. Deep breath---Yeah.
There. Isn't that better?
Or another thing, anyway.
A note of apology to my mathemeticophilic friends:
I do know that those people who have bent their brains around pushing further with these numbers are beginning to encounter usefulness, following Einstein's lead, where the pointy little numbers are blunted into larger instruments that make some approximation of the vaguaries of truth...finally translating back into something resembling reality. But it's still trying to change the weather with one of those awesome old-fashioned apple-coring machines. I like to turn the crank too, and I like that we're trying to really see and saying, But this time, let's not use our eyes. It's a cool idea, and definitely represents some strong evolution of spirit to even want to think outside of the confines of our own style of experience. Captain Kirk awards, all around!
And a word of admission: I myself find great delight in programming, which certainly employs numbers. For me, however, programming is about touching on the holiness of clarity and truth, and then translating it into stupid. I find patterns and hidden joining points in a messy bit of life, and then I find a clear way to describe this process of identification and interaction, to simplify the shapes and arcs of movement...and then I let the computer use my resultant algorithms to get all fiddly in the land of numbers. Computers are great for this; they were created out of numbers, and that's all they know. If they do have souls, then they feel deeply satisfied in this line of work. (And no, your Macintosh is not special and different, I'm sorry. It's just made to look that way. --It's amazing what a little 'wet-look' specular highlighting on desktop icons can do...) It's what we've got to work with; I just make sure I'm wearing gloves.