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there are some systems built for enumeration, but I do not fully believe I can support the thesis that human society is one of them.

The Registration

Our Nation used to have the motto

Strength in numbers. Freedom in numbers.

We were a country enamoured with number and quantity. They very idea of a number represented to us a unity, a collection, the very essence of a democratic state. That was many the year ago, before the time of the registration. Even, several years prior to the introduction of the registration, when the first census took place, people

The census was compulsory, and quite probing, but was ultimately anonymous. Figures about percentages of people with certain religious beliefs and who practised certain sexual acts were collected and published, but this generic, statistical display of differences served to further enhance the sense of nationalistic unity, of solidarity, between all the groups; seeing all their differences laid out side by side as acknowledged parts of our Nation.

But then came the Registration. It’s hard to communicate the extent to which this event destroyed our sense of identity and of our identity as citizens. Each citizen was assigned a number. That was all. It was their number uniquely; nobody, no citizen then or ever after would ever be given it. Immediately, a discomfort swept the populous at this, though the ID-number carried no other information with it; the government kept no other information attached to the number other than the identity of the person. But this did not matter: it was no longer a number. It was the number that identified them. It was a finger, pointing directly at them.

In calculations, in ledgers, numbers were still numbers, but in addition they represented people, the larger ones representing both future citizens, the possibility of disaster and the death of the state, or of the world, or maybe the abolition of the ID-system. Whatever happened, numbers, all numbers, were now charged with a political force of a sort that nobody was comfortable with. As time passed, smaller numbers came to be associated with death; stories and novels sprung up everywhere involving; conceptual art consisting entirely of lists of numbers affected thousands.

No longer were were numbers virtuous and idealized, no longer would they ever be: now numbers were human entities, and, in every calculation, the play of numbers gave rise to a story about people; a tale of relationships that might have never been, or might never be, these great fictions, though few were ever likely to be able interpret what they encountered in any given numerical-situation. Nonetheless, the possibility was there, and we were all very sensitive of this.