According to the distillation of the Pythagorean Theorem the distance between two points on a two dimensional plane is the root of the sum of the change in x and the change in y. With elegant mathematical precision this simple equation will determine the measure of any line segment, and its applications are further reaching that we can ever imagine. No such formula exists to help us understand the vast complexity of all the variables involved in the relationships between people. We do not inhabit a simplex bi-dimensional matrix, but a multi-dimensional reality of space, time, personalities, relationships, communities, and societies. Nothing in our reality of perpetual change and decay can be isolated like the immutable numbers of mathematical enquiry. Human beings, despite our greatest efforts, remain unpredictable, but never quite unknowable. The geometry of human connection forever lies in that liminal space between randomness and predictability; never fully known, but always vaguely understood through the lens of our shared nature. Our geometry, unlike that of points on a graph, is one which ensures that people are always full of surprises.
Today one of my students said: "I can't do this. My brain doesn't do maths!" Every year the same. I take pleasure in proving them wrong.—
Ùr-Fhàsaidh (@UrFhasaidh) August 14, 2015
Numbers are bound by limitations and governed by laws that are engraved on the dark obsidian stone of all eternity, but human limitations are limiting only insofar as our imaginations are limited. Each one of our walls and boundaries exists for the sole purpose of being breached. Yet on every landscape of human colonisation we have erected formidable walls and set down impassable boundaries to divide people from people, and humanity from nature. Inside our own heads we have long been fenced-in behind the frontiers of our self-imposed and socially imposed limitations, and the imprisonment of our minds has projected a slave mentality out into our world of the concrete and the real. Not a single part of a person can be free whose mind is not at liberty. If for a moment we can accept Descartes’ dictum that thought presupposes being, then we must begin to perceive that even the most rigid barrier is merely the chimera of our inner fearful thoughts. Everything is impossible for us until it is done. Achievement then is the bridge between the imagined and the real, and the crossing of that precipice is greatly facilitated by community, by human connectedness, and together-thinking. Our problem remains: there is no equation for joining two human minds.