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Saturday, January 22, 2005

Life's Distinctions 

Life is more varied at the boundary. Wish I could cite where I first read this observation. It was talking about wildlife in the meadow and in the forest compared to on that boundary. The observation raises as many questions as it answers.

It is highly unlikely that I'll nail this topic in this post or in this blog. In college I first attempted to read "Laws of Form" which I believe proves this observation and probes the questions it raises. (This book was also definitive proof to me that higher levels of math and philosophy are the same.) But I'm still gathering experiences that will help me understand "Laws of Form". I'm rather sure that John Lilly recommend this book in one of his.

[Note: I have to laugh. I'm working nearly every day during my commute on a large personal web project about HTML forms and I have been searching for a brand name for the project. Laws of Form would have worked.]

Spencer-Brown's idea starts with distinction. It is by drawing a line that distinguish one thing from another. For example, it is easy to draw a distinction between blue and green. And we make a further distinction between blue-green and green-blue but this distinction is not as universally shared. Then throw in two other observations "a rose is a rose is a rose" and that Arctic natives have many more words for snow than we do. These are just some of the questions that distinctions raise, at least for me.

And my observation. I've been doing a lot of house construction lately where I've torn out an old 50's pink bathroom and I'm making the space into two bathrooms. To do this all myself I've had to read many different Home Depot and Lowes books on carpentry, plumbing, electrical and tiling. Like any book they draw distinctions for example, between installing a bathtub and a sink. Or tiling a floor or tiling a bath surround. But these books do a poor job when it comes to the transition between two projects. For example, I had to install both drywall and cement backerboard. The later for the bathtub and the former for the rest of the bathroom. Easy to read how to install both, but nowhere could I read about how to transition from one to the other. I did eventually get my answer on the web.

Which lead me to thinking about how much we miss by the distinctions we live with. We make some of these distinctions, our culture makes others and our technologies make others.

In many ways that is the purpose of this blog and the fun of life. To note the distinctions (the ground/figure) and the consequences  of drawing the distinction.

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