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Dirty Little Slut

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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.

And what was it that the people inside could see, did they not think muteness a feature of poverty?

The fabulous revolution

Hotels used to have smoked glass to keep the candelabra-lit activities inside private, and also to tantalise the workers on the outside with silhouettes of grandeur.

When the revolution came, the workers burned down these luxuriant institutions of the imperialist state, and slaughtered their inhabitants. In their place, they then built new hotels, hotels with clear glass façades.

Their interiors were neither gilded nor fitted with crystal. Instead, they were dark, murky places, the deepest of reds carpeting the floors and the darkest of brown wallpapers covering the walls, with candles hidden away in corners. This was their image of luxury.

People are to some extent blind as to how their gestures look to other people, so says Derrida.

The sight of a girl

I came across something moderately fascinating yesterday in the journal of Neurology in Clinical Practice in Iowa (the may 1983 issue), which touches on many issues that interest me; allow me relate it you below:

There was a university hospital in the city of Ghent which specialized in patients with damaged visual systems; a lot of people who had lost their visual memory due to various unfortunate accidents and the like.

But there was a rather singular case involving a young girl who, while not blind, didn’t seem to have direct access to her visual memory. When the researchers first had her admitted to the hospital, they carried out a simple test: they brought her into a room containing several objects placed at various points, and asked her to describe what was in the room.

Now it is very common for children, when talking of the position of various things, to describe them relative to their own position, but this girl seemed to first talk of a blue cube as being in the corner, then of a toy horse as being above the cube on a shelf, and of the lamp being in the other corner left of the horse and so on. Also, curiously, she mentioned that she was in the room.

They then wanted to perform a bunch of other tests involving asking her to describe what she saw when presented with various pictures, but they fell apart: she was unable to understand the content of pictures or photographs except with the greatest of efforts on her part and of exhaustive explanations on the part of the researchers that would rather have invalidated the tests anyway.

They tried, for instance, to explain to her that if something in a picture appears to be small, then it is far away. She was completely unable to grasp this; she said that whether something was far away or near by it was still the same size, that things didn’t just get smaller when they were moved far away. And the doctors said “yes, but they *look* smaller”. She was vehement that they didn’t, however.

Another day, they presented her with a mirror and asked her to describe what she saw in it; she indicated that she saw nothing “in” it but could see herself a lot better now.

Anyway, on the basis of these curious results, and a few other tests, and a mathematically-literate psyche nurse, they ended up conjecturing that her visual system was exceptionally well-developed, to the extent that she no longer needed to access directly information from her visual system, that rather she only had access to a definite 3D model constructed inside of her brain, without a fixed centre on herself necessarily, or without having to deal with 2-dimensional projections like the rest of us (This also made her a rather slow learner when it came to reading).

The keys lie here and here, for those who need help with the references :)

A modern-day Funes

I have been reading through back-issues of the journal “Neurology in Clinical Practice in Iowa” over the past few evenings, and have come across one or two very fascinating case studies. I’ll mention one here, from 1978 (issue 6) that featured a gentleman who had a fantastic memory:

It was reported that he was able to memorize the contents of all of the 251312000 books in Borges’ library (Also known as the Universe to some). All one had to do was to specify the location of the book, and he was able, instantly to start reciting it from the start, only finishing when he had reached the end. What a phenomenal talent indeed, given that it’s almost beyond comprehension how he could have read all but a fraction of them!

(ho ho ho)

Cancer Warning

I was reading a very provocative article recently in the British Medical Journal which documented a large-scale study of cancer-clusters they occur in northern England and Scotland. There are sometimes some rather unfortunate coincidences, and the malign occasional clicks and buzzes of the power-supply box on the other side of my bedroom wall occasionally comes to my mind as a possible reason for my failures in life, such as they are (ice-cream price-hikes, bad luck on the horses, &c).

Their conclusion was that it was in all but a very few cases very likely that these clusters were caused by pure chance. But, unlike most studies of this sort, they didn’t leave it at that; they produced a graph (that I cannot reproduce here for copyright reasons) plotting the frequency of cancer cases against the distance from the nearest gambling establishment (including national lottery vendors), and found an almost exact distance-squared correlation. They thus concluded that seven eight nine.

Ba-dumpf! Bet you didn’t see that coming.

I gotz ur jug,
toppin' up ur glasses.

The moste subtle tormentation of the pour.

I was introduced to the following technique by the archcricket of Wales at a charity luncheon several years back – it can cause terrible internal consternation in the mind of the poor victim and will surely leave them on edge for the entire evening. It is primarily intended for the restaurant lunch-for-2, with a target who is sensitive to matters etiquettical, otherwise they might miss it entirely, and then where would you be?!

When you sit down with your partner at the table and are ordering, be sure to ask for a jug of water; (Oh! the other person must also be wiling to drink it elseways this will not work at all). So yes, anyway. You are to keep track of the levels of both his and your glasses of water during the meal; what you are waiting for is a time when you are just finished yours, and he is somewhere between half and two-thirds finished his.

Now, when you reach this point, you reach for the glass and fill yours to a level just slightly below the level his is at, and then you put the jug back down (Do try to make sure they notice this; but don’t point it out in some vulgar way). Then you carry on. Such an action will cause immense conflict in their refined minds as, on the one hand, you aught have topped them up, but on the other hand you seem to think such a quantity as you have poured to be sufficient for your own purposes. I am not, maybe, best able to explain the psychology of it in words directly, but I will vouch for its fantastic effectiveness.

Oh yes: what sweet, sweet sounds.

The Sleeping Princess

There once were a King and Queen who were unable to conceive a child. One day, the Queen, looking out from her balcony, said “Oh, I would give anything to be with child”. No sooner had she spoken but a fairy had appeared, and replied “I am the Queen of Dreams, and I will grant your wish. You will give birth to a baby girl in nine months’ time. However, you must have her drink a cup of your finest coffee each day, or else I will take her to my Kingdom, and you will not see her again”. The queen was delighted, and promised to carry out the fairy’s instructions.

Sure enough, in nine months she gave birth to a baby girl, who grew up to be the most beautiful young maid in the whole kingdom. According to the fairy’s wishes, she had a cup of the kingdom’s finest coffee brought to her every morning, which she drank whether she felt in the mood or not.

However, one morning, while out on her balcony, she accidentally dropper her cup on the ground; she rushed out to get the maids to clean it up, and forgot all about it. Within half an hour, hey eyes began to droop and she began to swoon, and by noon she was fast asleep; nobody could wake her. When the maids told the queen about the cup of coffee, the queen knew what had happened.

She slept for years and years, never growing any older; her parents both died, and still she slept; her nieces and nephews dies, and still she slept, a thousand generations passed, and still she slept until, one day, a handsome prince rode by playing his Strohviolin; so wondrous was the sound that she immediately awoke, feeling fresh as if she just had an afternoon nap, and fell in love with the prince. Wasn’t able to kick the caffeine habit though :/

A turtle seemed to be the most fitting image.

Fantastical Cetology 101

I was just re-reading moby dick last week, and I remembered an idea I had for a post the last time I read it. The basic idea was this: whales can communicate with other whales half way around the globe, and so their knowlege of the finiteness of the earth might be almost intuitive. Also, owing to a lack of distant horizons underwater, the idea of the infinite in geometry might not have arisen in their case in as fundamental way as it did for ours, if they practised geometry.

I tried to wrap this up in several different ways; one of them involved St. Francis going to preach to the whales, another was trying to write a chapter that might fit in to moby dick somewhere, and a few other methods. I even wrote out three different versions, but none of them worked. Hence: this post. Hope ye’re happy; nothing but the best for you guys.

and what of the time, eh? what of it?

Fantasy #6

I lie in bed; the morning lie in bed, my clock sits to the left with face away, ticking.

I know it will go off soon. But I cannot tell when.

It would be better if I would simply get up now, of my own accord, than to endure this torturous uncertainty – my body cannot relax in this state and the pressure in my temples can but mount.