We live through maps (0b): Mythos over logos (continued)

[continued from the previous post, this series of posts is a complete translation of `Philosophy Paper, written by F.A. Waaldijk, student of mathematics, student number 8327661, in the year 1991′]

[—–third post in the translation—–]

Would that God gave this not to be a philosophy paper. Then I would just write down the above conversation, nothing more, without commentary that only serves to wall up the issue. Compare this to Nne’s fist answer: `Daddy’. For hav this is amply sufficient. When pressed ve is willing to clarify this answer to: `Daddy is a daddy’, but that is already a mutilation, ve rather means: `Daddy is daddy’. Notice, dear reader, that against my wish I nonetheless am giving a commentary; forgive me, I must.

The proposition `Daddy is a man’ is not only uninteresting to Nne, it is even positively incorrect. To Nne, daddy is not a man, and Nne thinks uncle Henk more resemblant of aunt Josje than of daddy. What will happen to Nne? Ve will learn that in order to be rid of the harping [on correct gender], ve must split people in two categories, where someone from the one category is a she, a woman, and someone from the other category is a he, a man. Ve will learn how to make this classification using several recognizable (but not necessarily more noticeable than non-gender-based) differences such as long hair, a low-pitched voice, a skirt, a beard, etcetera.

It may be obvious that Nne, if ve doesn’t learn to make this distinction, will hardly be able to stand vir ground. It will also be clear that this learning process profoundly influences Nne’s cognition [denkwereld; `thinking’]. Ve is forced so to speak to adopt age-old thinking patterns, even before ve can reasonably agree or disagree, in this case the thinking pattern that of all the differences between human beings, the woman-man difference is the most important. A remarkable thinking pattern, because it says that the mommy and the daddy of Nne, who differ two years in age, have the same complexion, the same way of speaking, the same cultural background and whose outlook on life is largely overlapping, stíll resemble each other less than Nne’s daddy and a twenty years older pygmy man.

Reader, I ask you in all gravity whether you accept this thinking pattern. And if you accept it, do you then accept it whilst at the same time feeling free to also reject it if necessary? Or is there something in you that immediately revolts against the idea that it is often completely irrelevant whether a given person is a woman or a man?

I ask you this last question to make a comparison. Suppose someone visits you, completely enthusiastic, almost overjoyed. Of course you ask after the reason for vir excitement. Ve answers that ve has just made a phenomenal discovery, you won’t believe it, ve says, but the earth is flat after all!

Do you think you will be able to take this person seriously for even one moment? That you will reject vir discovery is something I don’t doubt an instant, I do so myself as well. But I’m not asking you whether you are willing to reconsider the idea that the earth is a sphere, but whether you are able to reconsider that idea. You will perhaps answer that it is meaningless to do so, the flatness of the earth being a terribly outdated medieval idea. Then I make another comparison:

Suppose someone visits you, completely enthusiastic, almost overjoyed. Of course you ask after the reason for vir excitement. Ve answers that ve has just made a phenomenal discovery, you won’t believe it, ve says, but the earth is a sphere!

Do you think you will be able to take this absurd idea au serieux for even one moment? That you will reject vir discovery is something I don’t doubt a second, I do so myself as well. Nevertheless someone came to visit me the other day, with the tale that ve is going to sail to the Indies, in westward direction! Ve asked me for a small contribution to this foolhardy expedition. Ve tried to convince me that, if the earth is round, ve could reach the Indies also by sailing westward. I ridiculed hav, but ve was used to that, ve said, and whether I for once would be willing to open myself to a new idea. There ve had the best of me of course, since that is precisely what I always tell others. So I saw myself necessitated to give hav a golden dubloon. Well, ve left yesterday with vir ships. Aside from the money, I hope ve will be able to turn them around when he reaches the edge, because he is rather a nice guy. I did ask hav how ve had acquired that strange idea. To you I dare to tell this, ve said (although only after having pocketed my dubloon):

The other night my wife and I were lying in bed, and you know how loquacious my wife is, and what strange ideas she can have. Anyway, I had trouble falling asleep, and to cheer me up a little and prepare me for dreamland, she started telling me all kinds of fantastic and impossible things. She told of a Moorish wizard who cursed people to the moon. And those people, she said, had the greatest fun since the moon turned out to be a very large ball on which you could walk around, and if you continued in one direction for some time then you returned at your point of origin!
You will understand why I love my wife so much, she is still so, well…so childlike I would almost say. But anyway, to cut things short, that same night I dreamt that the earth is also a great ball. The next morning I told my wife what I had dreamt, and she asked me why such a thing should not be possible. What reason do you have, so she said, to assume that the earth is flat, other than that she appears flat and that everybody always says she is flat? Likewise with some Balkan tribes there are girls who decide to become a man. They flatten their breasts with tight-wound rags, and henceforth dress as a man, act like a man. They move to a region where no one knows them, and then are taken for a man, some even marry a woman! Believe it or not, their deceit is often discovered only on their death, when for that reason they are disrobed. Of course, this doesn’t occur very often, but one occurrence is already enough.
Now with my wife I never know whether she makes something up on the spot, or whether she has heard it from one of her many trustworthy sources. That stuff about those Balkan girls I’m therefore not so sure of, but it doesn’t matter anyhow. The earth is a woman! She appears flat but with my journey I will strip away her clothes and then we shall see!


he said mischievously.

When ve had narrated me this story, ve had me sold of course. Against all of my cautious nature I then had three ships built for him. When I told him this, he embraced me half in tears. You have no idea, ve said, how often I have been mocked, ridiculed, even menaced. You have no idea what this means to me. I told hav that even so I had little trust in vir undertaking as well. But you at least give me a chance, he spoke, and he really seemed deeply moved. I only hope that he will return.

[—–to be continued in the next post—–]


About fwaaldijk

mathematician (foundations & topology in constructive mathematics) and visual artist
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