Saturday, July 9, 2016
Möbius And Finding One's Self Oneself
Norma's blackboard invited me to reflect and decide if, after a day of medical tests, I was having fun yet. A simple question if you ignore the virgule --a left-hanging slash mark that is actually a chive. In all languages, including French, grammarians and gardeners can distinguish between virgules and chives because chives cast a shadow and virgules do not . This is elementary punctuation to my generation but is no longer taught and bears repeating. By such details one finds one's self.
The phrase "one’s self" is used in spiritual, philosophical and psychological description. Otherwise, "one’s self" can be replaced with the pronoun "oneself" except in possessive reference to a small mythical being --in which case, it's probably better not to mention "one's elf", especially loudly on a cell phone in public. Why? Because it doesn't really compete with public cell-phone broadcasts like, "Where you at? No, where YOU at? I'm at the checkout line, buying stuff FOR MY CONTAGIOUS BRAIN-EATING DISEASE!"
Where this leaves one's self in relation to oneself is debatable.
People who shout publicly on cell-phones are the biological equivalent of a geometrical enigma, the Möbius strip.
The Möbius strip is a 3-d surface with only one side. It was discovered independently by German mathematicians August Ferdinand Möbius and Johann Benedict Listing in the same year, 1858. This was a great coincidence, diverging only in subsequent disagreement between the two mathematicians over which side had been isolated. Möbius claimed the outside and Listing argued for the inside. They finally agreed it was neither but the model was named after the mathematician with the best left hook (however, Mobius's umlaut was stolen that night and the grammatical case was never solved!).
Cell-phone shouters seem only to have an outside, but their effectiveness in driving the rest of us inside suggests both planes coexist in emotional opposition.
Two-sided people can use cell-phones too. Norma uses hers to converse very quietly with our children, who have grown up and scattered over the world, in the same gentle voice she used to hush them to sleep with when they were little. She does this in the evening while painting things blue.
While Norma was murmuring soporific phrases to our offspring, lots of friends were questing off to India to find themselves. They would come back after a year or two, full of strange enthusiasms --meditation, ego-abolition, gravity bathing (ok, I just made up gravity bathing)-- back to find their little ones had found other parents and their spouses reassigned. But they had found themselves in search of themselves --and, to their credit, they found a lot of Indians.
My personal search for myself is as it has always been. The sun sets. I set out. On the way, I notice the elf is not an elf but a purple caret-capped gnome at the foot of Norma's slate. A caret, I should mention, is a pointy grammatic symbol suggesting insertion (caret ^) and should not be sat on by accident. As for myself (this one's self) or whatever I was looking for, I probably forgot and left it in the van. I'll go look.