Monday, March 18, 2013

The human doughnut

  Sethren, I do not want to dwell on the old, the Abrahamic religions, for they are fucked. 
   Hold on.
  I watched the fraternity’s television last night.  The brothers had chosen a socially reverberant drama about a disadvantaged minority, teenage zombies in point of fact, and we were introduced to the right-on phrase, partially deceased syndrome.  Sethren, while the theological question remains open, should a morally responsible teacher use the term fucked at all? let alone in direct apposition to the Abrahamic religions, I hereby transmute the term fucked to partially deceased.
  Sethren, I do not want to dwell on the old, the Abrahamic religions, for they are partially deceased.  However, before we turn our attention from demons to other aspects of the symbiosis between Culture and the human organism, I must pose the question, How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Apparently devotees to the cause of Christian Scholasticism in the medieval period talked of little else throughout an otherwise uneventful Tuesday afternoon in 1273.  But I want to slightly change the question.
  How many demons are there in a needle?
  Irreducible difference, sethren.
  Such pursuit can divide differences into differences, demons into demons, for ever.  So, as a first attempt, I’m going to try it on a fairly coarse scale.  Forgive me.
  In practice, in daily life, we know the difference between a needle and anything else without thinking about it.  Needle is a quite simple natural concept.  It is a demon.  The only thing we might confuse a needle with is a pin.  However, at the level of anatomisation and analysis, more demons appear.  These are demons that exist separately from the needle demon in the neural substrate and in the metaverse, but like all demons can reiterate themselves at the drop of a hat and appear anywhere else in an ideoverse or in the metaverse, in this case winking and glimmering about the surface of the needle itself.  The first of these demons, these irreducible differences, is function, a difference of function.  A needle is for drawing a thread, cord or strip of hide through something, a skin or something woven.  A pin is for fixing something to something else.
  Blimey, sether Cavilia, I had hoped to get away with that for a bit.  Yes, it is a sad fact that there is a bin not thirty paces yonder, labelled “sharps”.  And, yes sether, yes indeed, it is for the deposition, yes sether Albert, as it may be by the company of those fucked (but now, sether, we say partially deceased) by the ill-advised addition of such as heroin to their own bloodstreams; for the deposition of their hypodermic needles.  Which, as you so joyfully point out, are not for the drawing of a thread through a textile.  And, I’ll do it before you do, you could say that they are for puncturing the skin in order to introduce a fluid into the bloodstream.  As it might be, the tooth of a cobra.  And so there are, sether, other things too, the sting of a wasp, with which a needle could easily be elided.
  One difference, I said, between a needle and a pin is, function.  Luckily, there is another.  Topology.
  A needle is a thing with a hole in it.  A pin isn’t.
  One of the demons that differentiate between a needle and a pin is a hole.  A lot of people are not quite clear about what exactly that is, a hole.  It is simple, and a needle is a good example.  Topologically, a hole is where you can put a thread through, bring the ends together, and the needle cannot escape without breaking the thread.  That is a hole.  A cup is topologically identical to a needle.  You can put a string through the handle, and hang the cup from it.  A teapot has two holes.  And a cereal bowl has none, like a pin.  Finally, a hypodermic needle has one hole, just like a sewing needle.  Think about it.  So a hypodermic needle is a needle, topologically identical to a sewing needle, not a pin.  We're okay there.
  Yes, sether, the fang of a snake is like a needle, but only when it's not attached to a poison sac.  Which it usually is.  Then you can stick a very fine filament up the middle of the fang of a snake into the poison sac, but you can’t get it out anywhere.  There is no hole.  It's the same as a sphere, or a balloon.  Topologically a balloon has no hole in it, otherwise how could you blow it up?  And you can't possible confuse a balloon with a needle.  Get a grip, sether.
  Sether Albert, your lack of discretion knows no decent bounds.  Here we are, in a layby, by a bus stop, in a public place, and you just keep going.  Okay, I will answer.  Yes.  The human skin is continuous, toroidal, and has three holes in it.  Yes sether, mine has too, but that ends in the bladder, and is topologically the same as a bowl or a sphere.  The human skin is topologically the same as a tee-shirt.  And the aperture you keep shouting about, yes you are, sether, and people are looking…  St Richard describes it thus, first quoting Lewis Wolpert:
             It is not birth, marriage of death, but gastrulation, which is truly the most important time in your life.
Gastrulation is thus.  In deuterostomes, of which clade we are a member, the blastula, the very early embryo, is round like a ball.  Then an indentation forms, so it becomes like a bowl (which is topologically identical to a ball).  Within this bowl the blastopore develops, and that becomes the gut and kindred organs.  But nothing topological has happened yet.  Later, the mouth forms, and it is only when the two, mouth and anus, are conjoined by the gut, through which, though not with ease, a string might pass (yes, yogic adepts, so I have heard, sether) that we become topologically the same as a teacup or a length of copper piping.  It is only then that we, along with the rest of the animal kingdom, gain our true toroidal existence.  And then, only briefly.  When the nostrils develop, we lose it again, we stop being the same as a tea-cup, and become the same as a tee-shirt.  No, sether, not as a pair of trousers.  A Pair of trousers is topologically identical to a button or a bow.  But not rings and things.  Rings and things are equivalent to a needle.  Annular.  Full circle.
I grow weary, sethren.  I had foreseen distraction, but not on this scale.
How simple a needle now seems, does it not.  A thing with merely one hole.  Let us rejoice.
I know, sethren, partly deceased syndroming outrageous.  And it is meant to be early spring.  The jetstream has split asunder and half of it is down in North Africa, the rest in Spain, while we on the ringroad here in Huddersfield are in the kingdom of the polar bear, and the poor bears swelter iceless in a landscape redolent of the Huddersfield ringroad.  In answer to this misery, the plump pink public schoolboys rub their plump pink squelchy hands together and wetly dream of fracking.
Off to feast in the fleshpots of the town.  Tomorrow we will finally compute how many are the demons in a needle.

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