A Genealogy of Analysis

We cannot take for granted the human mental activity termed analysis, that is grouped, tightly or loosely, with rationality, logicality, and often Procrustean binarism. Where did such violent patterns of thought arise from to be a mainstay of the modern human experience? Thought patterns that have a curious mind pondering, and ultimately encouraging a body—or many bodies—to enact such blood spilling dissections of the natural world. To get at a plausible answer, I believe we must use another mental activity still afforded us (i.e. imagination?) that can have us walking in some earlier, less or even pre-analytical time. Perhaps if we use such an imaginative temporal transportation adequately, we can see the peculiar analytical flap of the butterfly’s wings that rippled into the hurricane of analytic violence that so consumes the human psyche and the wider world we have today compacted.

The Stark Natural Impurity of Purities

Purities are the fruits ripest for a mind to cling to and ponder to develop an analytic binary: that which is the pure thing, and the impure milieu defined as a background to surrounding the pureness. To get at such pure fruit, we could take our imaginations back temporally to the experience of an early migratory human in a forest gathering tinder for a fire. Such an activity is not unimaginable though it probably displays a crude understanding of paleolithic life; nevertheless, it will serve as a starting point.

We should pose the question: what in that forest environment was pure enough to stand out from the rest that she would take particular note to develop a discourse to pass on to others? The only “thing” that I can think of (but perhaps your imagination will afford you a better example) that is pure and startling enough to wrench her from her gathering task would be her stumbling upon a recently dead body of another human. Such a drastic encounter would probably force her, after much emotional processing, to conceptualize death as something other than life. The purely differentness of death from daily living would stand out to any having their first encounter. From this simple life-death binary it is possible that if she didn’t suppress the whole experience out of a traumatic response, that she would then be opened to seeing death in non-human entities as well, such as a fallen tree, animals she might eat, and so on.

This life-death binary is a possible beginning to the analysis we have inherited mentally, culturally, institutionally today, but I would like to problematize that such an event could actually have had the staying power to grow into the scientific and philosophical knives with which we currently dice up reality. I don’t think a single concept—even one as shaking as death—could pull a migratory people into developing a particularly divisive language and an educational culture dedicated to replicating such ideas in the minds of their children and grandchildren. I see such primal occurrences, if they happened at all, as likely to be ripples that returned to the ocean; carcasses left behind to decay as the migration pushed forward, away from a previous locale.

The Relaxed Acceleration of the Western Analytic Mind

The particular analysis we of the westernized world have inherited must have an origin of sorts, and one place I would posit as distinctly possible is in the Pre-Socratic philosophizing of ancient Greece. A sea such as the Ionian (or Aegean) offers itself as such an analytic purity to the mind of one not interested in empiricism, who is not attuned to the subtleties of catching fish or other nautical pursuits. Thales—a name for a thinking (wo)man or group of thinking (wo)men—was just such a person who had a privileged position, including the leisure time to gaze at water and conceptualize it as a purity. After finding this pure fluid mixed in with other substances—not least of which would have been fruit—Thales went on to posit that this purity of water was what made up everything. Though no documentary evidence exists, it is quite possible that among a small group there was a fervor of thought and activity exploring this idea that water composed everything, and there were many fruits and animals slain (blood would be evidence), and wells dug, in the search of proof of waters omni-presence. This idea of a purity certainly impressed itself on the minds of these specific characters, and their bodily actions were sure to complement their thinking patterns. Out of Thales came other ontological originary elemental positings (air, fire) by the Ionian school that favored different purities for different reasons.

Thus oneness was posited in the minds of a particular place that would genealogically endure, and a few generations later “twoness” would arise from Plato and any proto-Platonists on the scene. Again, empiricism is sheltered out for it is damaging to the rational categories so constructed by the philosopher. History tells us of a marching forward of these ideas that would not be stamped out by the Persian Empire, nor defeated by the Carthaginians, nor permanently lost to the middle ages. We are the inheritors of such a tradition, but we are also those who could freely choose a different path, and to let go of analytics if we so dared, not using paths blazed before us that direct our activities forward.

There is an ontological, non-historical explanation for binaries/analysis which is forthcoming.

Appendage of Scattered Notes/Ideas:

modern work doesn’t enable an excess of leisure, being of a particular class of efficiency that we can have leisure as a byproduct. No, it was during leisure time that modern work tasks were codified in the mind and then later put into practice that now have us all toiling in varying degrees.

analytics are not created/initiated in the brain. They are purities in the external world, like “blueness”, straight edges, create the idea of analytics. Comes from purities, from a lack of sensitization; but if we are just open to our senses…

violent slashings create an idea of objects and geometry that must have been somewhere available in the greeks. They must have been looking at the sky too much.

Advertisement

8 fingers is better than 9

“Can’t you stop delaying?” winced Gabriel. He was holding his left hand out by its wrist with the tight grip of his right hand.

“I don’t know man, you are in this much pain and I didn’t even do anything yet,” replied Oliver.

“I’m anticipating the pain, that way the relative increase when you cut it off won’t be so extreme…” explained Gabriel, whose layers of thoughts put into this event continued to unfold.

“Oh, is that how it works?” said Oliver with amusement. “I still like my idea better of finding a local anesthetic, a practice mind you backed by thousands of years of human experimentation to reduce pain.” Oliver shifted his grip on the knife. “Besides,” he continued, “what are you drunk for if your so against reducing the pain? And are you in the best state of mind?”

“Yes, but I told you when I was sober,” Gabriel said with a whine of annoyance. “I told you that I would want to be drunk, and I told you specifically because I knew you’d be okay with helping me and not backing out, thinking I was just brave for something I’d regret when the Everclear wore off.”

“Your hangover’s going to hurt worse than your hand” Oliver laughed. He lifted the knife, ready to swing down at the counter with his friends hand on it. Gabriel strained his body away, as if the farther he got from his hand on the counter, the more disassociated he would be from what was about to result. Oliver looked at Gabriel’s twisted face: “are you sure you want to me to do this?”

“Stop asking that,” said Gabriel. “I just need you to cut this stupid fucking pinky finger off so I can have some normal, authentic interactions with people.”

“Isn’t it your ring finger you should be mad at?” asked Oliver, hoping he might have a new argument to back his friend away from the edge. He lowered the knife for the moment.

“I can’t get mad at the missing finger, because it’s fucking missing,” said Gabriel, ready to reveal his whole constructed logic out of his perceived misfortune. “It’s my pinky finger that stands out to me… everyone else notices the lack of a finger, not me. I notice the finger that makes the accident seem weird, seem cursed, seem like I’m in confederation with satanical forces. Missing a ring finger makes people wonder, create little stories in their head about me, maybe even gossip if they’re assholes. I know they do, I can tell… but usually I just keep my hand fisted, and then they have conceptions about why that is, and my tense body language I’m sure gives off bad vibes, and, and it’s just fucking with my life. But if you do this, maybe I can find a girl who won’t think I’m cursed and not marry me, who will overlook my maimed hand missing two fingers, rather than stare at my deformed hand missing one finger.”

“Clearing the path for you to get married is a reason not to do this, I might have to revoke my offer, sir” Oliver said as he put the knife down on the opposite counter. “Gay people are so happy that they just won the right to marry. I think maybe they haven’t thought it through yet. But maybe there are less arguments between people of the same sex?”

“It’s about equal rights dude,” said Gabriel with a corrective tone, “and you and I are arguing plenty. 

“But remember Frodo, he lost one finger and the ring, I don’t think he could trade a second finger for the ring back,” said Oliver, “and…”

“Fuck Frodo,” interrupted Gabriel. “But marrying or not marrying, I don’t want this getting in the way, and I don’t want to feel so awkward around people, around new people who aren’t used to me and vice versa.”

“Alright, alright,” said Oliver.

“No, it’s not alright,” continued Gabriel, “it makes me doubt myself in all social situations, it gnaws at me. If people can get plastic surgery to add things, and sometimes subtract things, can’t I? It’s not like I use the pinky finger for much, its on my non-dominant hand and it has no reinforcing finger to mesh and add support to. It’s aloofness only amplifies my own feeling of being aloof.”

“You could go to a surgeon with a psychiatrist’s note,” Oliver suggested. “I mean, there are plenty of them who chop off another thing that is aloof, a man’s most important digit, or limb according to some dudes who describe their appendage.” A wry smile grew on Oliver’s face, realizing how he could connect this situation with another that was always one of amusement and befuddlement to him. Gabriel snapped him out of his musings.

“I want the pain,” said Gabriel, resolutely. “I specifically didn’t go to a doctor, who would refer me to a psychiatrist anyways… a long fucking goose chase and a bunch of people trying to talk me out of what I intend to do. They would also do a much neater job than you, which would need explaining, and go against my story I’ve made up.”

“Your brother’s buzz saw?” asked Oliver.

“No, I changed it,” Gabriel said, “it was my granddad’s table saw in his basement. It works because he would be too old and out of it to realize I had injured myself. So basically I pass out after cutting my two fingers off, and by the time I come to and get to the hospital, they had been disconnected too long to reattach… technology wasn’t good back then for connection anyways. Also, my granddad is dead now, so he wouldn’t have to lie or listen to my bullshit story and then repeat it if ever asked.”

“Why were you cutting the wood? Or were you even cutting wood?” asked Oliver.

“I don’t fucking know.”

“Well you should know, cause some people might ask that.”

“Hmm, I’ll have to think of that,” said Gabriel. “But it works for my counting theory of 8 digits, too, though now I should consider my thumbs as fingers. I’ll have to theorize around that little problem. But I’ve got it figured out, and even if I don’t, you know how much I want this, so please just do it!” Gabriel held his hand out again. It was so tense and tight that all the ligaments and delicate bones were protruding from the top of his hand.

“Alright,” said Oliver, picking up the knife with a new resolve. He said nothing more, he just let his arm muscles take over, bringing the knife speeding down directly perpendicular to his friend’s pinky finger joint.

won, to, for, ate: The Troubling Doubling Homophonic Numbers

The only single digit—or any number four that matter—numbers that have homophones in the English language are also the first four doubling numbers: 1, 2, 4, 8 (nein is Germanic, as is English, but that’s even more of a stretch, and I respond to it by saying “no” , four it doesn’t fit the pattern and would break it)…  I think its appropriate, and pretty sweet, that it stops there and doesn’t go to 16, and that there are only four of them.

[edit: words below added on 2016-03-30]

A relevant related phenomenon exists in the number of letters used to write out a pronunciation matches for 1,2,4, as in 1, to, four (but not three, which is made up of 5 letters). Also, there are four Latin prefixes that have the same letters as the number they are to represent: bi, tri, quad, quint.