by Robert Waltz
Not for the faint of art.
A complex number is expressed in the standard form a + bi, where a and b are real numbers and i is defined by i^2 = -1 (that is, i is the square root of -1). For example, 3 + 2i is a complex number.
The bi term is often referred to as an imaginary number (though this may be misleading, as it is no more "imaginary" than the symbolic abstractions we know as the "real" numbers). Thus, every complex number has a real part, a, and an imaginary part, bi.
Complex numbers are often represented on a graph known as the "complex plane," where the horizontal axis represents the infinity of real numbers, and the vertical axis represents the infinity of imaginary numbers. Thus, each complex number has a unique representation on the complex plane: some closer to real; others, more imaginary. If a = b, the number is equal parts real and imaginary.
Very simple transformations applied to numbers in the complex plane can lead to fractal structures of enormous intricacy and astonishing beauty.
PROMPT May 17th
“Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.” — Chuck Palahniuk
Read this article and share your thoughts about how the people in your life have had an impact on you.
“They’ve all helped me grow, become more resilient, and many supporting me when I most needed it. I’ve learned, matured, and became wiser thanks to my interactions with them.”
Okay, well, that Palahniuk quote is trivially true. I'm usually quick to side with "nurture" in the "nature vs. nurture" debate -- meaning that our lived experience is far more important than genetics in determining who we are. That's probably because my "lived experience" comes from having been adopted as an infant, so take that for what it's worth.
The article, however, quickly delves into territory that would make it great blog fodder, had I found it first during a time when I'm not doing a blog challenge.
I generally have two main categories of blog fodder: articles I like because they explain things better than I ever could, and articles that I like because I get to snark on them.
This is one of the latter, so buckle up.
Indeed, nothing is original.
For various definitions of original, okay.
We’ve inherited everything that defines us as individuals. Our genetic makeup determines a great deal of who we are; the rest deriving from our interactions with others and our environment. Yet the combination of these traits is what makes each person unique.
I'd turn that around (though probably genetics has a greater impact on appearance). But I see what the author's doing: making a distinction between "original" and "unique." This is, in my view, a distinction without a difference. Each of us is unique. Each of us is original. But each of us is also part of a continuum; a process that started with the Big Bang, proceeded through the formation of the solar system and the first life, and continues in an unbroken chain.
This, too, is profound but trivial.
Your parents (or primary caregivers) had the largest and most significant impact on the person you are today.
Typically, they’re our first encounter with the opposite sex, heavily influencing the romantic partners we unconsciously seek later on.
And? By the time I encountered females other than my mother, I still hadn't internalized what sex differences really were. I suspect most people are the same in that regard. Incidentally, I just saw an article about a monk who died, at a ripe old age, supposedly having never encountered a female person. He was abandoned at the monastery at an early age, and they (officially) didn't let women in. Somehow, this is presented so as to show how holy he was.
A myriad of mental illnesses and personality disorders can also be traced down to how we related to our caregivers during our first years of life.
That sounds Freudian. Almost everything Freud said or believed has been shown to be, at best, misguided.
Today I’m doing the inner work; embracing the positive, cherishing the memories, forgiving what hurt me, and releasing what no longer serves my highest good.
After reading that sentence, my inner work involves swallowing some Pepto-Bismol to counteract the gorge that's starting to rise. This, I think, is one thing that Elisa the Vaccinated Stik refers to as "toxic positivity."
Siblings play a huge role in our lives. Raised within the same household, they can comprehend our trials and tribulations far more profoundly than others.
And I am eternally grateful that I never had any.
As my genetic background is, by my choice, almost entirely unknown (I mean, it's pretty obvious my genes come from northern Europe, but other than that, who knows), I consider the world my extended family.
“Friends are the family we chose for ourselves” — Edna Buchanan
Friends are the family that we're socially allowed to distance ourselves from when they become assholes.
Romantic Partners and Interests
Intimate partners usually mirror plenty of aspects buried deep within us, causing unresolved issues to surface and pushing us to evolve. Thus, romantic relationships are immense learning experiences.
As all of these have ended badly, I no longer pursue such things.
However, we cannot solely blame the other person for how things turned out. It takes two to tango, and we must assume responsibility for our own shortcomings.
I do. That's why I stopped.
Neighbors, Coworkers, Roommates
Believe it or not, for the better or the worse, many of them have somehow marked my life.
Um... DUH. Often these are people we don't choose (with the possible exception of roommates). Some of them become friends. Either way, they're going to have an effect on your life. There's no "believe it or not" involved; they're people we interact with.
“No one is sent by accident to anyone” — A Course in Miracles
Oh, man, I wish she'd led with that quote. It would have saved me a lot of time and effort, 45 minutes that I could have spent watching Star Trek, playing a video game, masturbating, or sending internet memes to friends -- all of which are FAR more productive uses of time than even contemplating that stupid fucking book.
But since I'm here anyway, allow me to deconstruct.
"No one is sent..." Passive voice. Sent by whom? Knowing what I know about ACIM, it's "the Universe," or the New Age conception of God. This goes against every fiber of my belief. No one "is sent," period. End of sentence. We may not truly have free will, but nor does some Uber-consciousness direct our actions. More importantly, you are not the purpose of the Universe. Neither am I. I realize other people disagree with this, but it is a big part of why ACIM is anathema to me. (Though I have to admit that one of my great epiphanies in life was triggered by ACIM -- but not in a way the book intended.)
"...by accident..." This is a philosophical distinction, but to me, pretty much everything is an accident at base.
"...to anyone." In a backwards-looking sense, everything that has ever happened to you leads up to the present moment. People have gazed upon this simple truth in wide-eyed wonder. "If I hadn't turned right instead of left, I never would have run over your dog, and we would have never met, and we wouldn't be getting married right now." Big whoop. You'd meet someone else, or learn to live in comfort with yourself, and then you'd contemplate all the accidents that led you to that moment in wide-eyed wonder.
This does not mean we're fated. This means we're adaptable to many different situations.
Anyway, once I encounter a quote from ACIM (or "The Secret,") I Stop Reading Right There. (Exception: when someone is ragging on it, like I'm doing right now.)
So instead I'll expand on the "one of my great epiphanies in life" comment above.
It's my understanding that ACIM boils all human emotion down to two categories: love and fear. Well, I think that's reductionist and oversimplistic, but far be it from me to reject something without at least considering its worth. So I got to thinking: If all emotions are "really" either love or fear, what is fear but an emotional reaction to a real or imagined threat to something that you love? So if you go with the flow, here, you have to follow it to its logical conclusion, which is that the only emotion is love.
But believing so denies us our complexity, thus throwing the entire new-age positivity movement into shadow.
To sum up, yes, I agree with the main premise: that everyone, everything, is interconnected. Again, this is trivial. There's nothing mystical about it. No person is an island, to paraphrase a famous quote. And even if we were, we'd be defined by the ocean around us.
“A certain man once lost a diamond cuff-link in the wide blue sea, and twenty years later, on the exact day, a Friday apparently, he was eating a large fish - but there was no diamond inside. That’s what I like about coincidence.”
― Vladimir Nabokov
You know, I was too busy being disgusted by the relentless positivity and New Age gooeyness (and subsequently drinking copious amounts of alcohol to counteract it) that I completely overlooked that the author made a really big, huge, glaring omission in the piece.
I don't see a single word about teachers, who are, after one's parents, the people who... well... teach us the most.
Yeah, this was an oversight on my part, but like I said, it's an enormous gaping void in the article.
Obviously, we have good teachers and bad teachers, but in the end, they all help to make us what we are.