Sunday, November 27, 2011

Circles and Almonds

The person on the left once wrote that 'loneliness is the most terrible poverty'.
Some are, like me, perhaps, by accident or design, more comfortable loners than others. Which is not to say that they never feel lonely. Of course they do, sometimes achingly so. When in the company of friends often after an absence, there's a temptation to overreact in a social setting, to re-establish kinship, place and order.
Perhaps we all have some kind of continuum of interaction which those who live together slip into comfortably, a kind of 'vesica piscis', if you will. For those unfamiliar with this - literally a 'fish-bladder,' it's the intersection of two circles with the same radius so that the centre of each circle lies on the circumference of the other. The Italian name is 'mandorla' or 'almond'.
There's a beautiful, almost mystical clarity about this shape with  its height to width radius of the square root of 3. 
Playing arbitrarily with numbers, 153 happens to be the number of fish apparently caught in the miraculous catch in John 21 and consists of the sum of one squared, one triangular and one circular number (100+28+25) Evagrius of Pontus wrote a treatise on prayer consisting of 153 separate thoughts for this reason. Medieval illuminated scripts enclosed Christ in Majesty within a mandorla, the cover of the Well at Glastonbury is decorated with one, and both freemasonry and the Church of Scotland make use of it in their emblems. For earthier New Age philosophers, the resemblance to the female genitalia is more than coincidental.
Returning to a relational theme, what happens when this balance is disturbed? Both circles become warped. If the diameter is too small, one circle will become isolated with respect to the other - we all know marriages which have drifted so far apart that the central diameter and hence the aperture is almost non-existent. On the other hand, if the circles overlap too much, one circle becomes the other, a personality becomes so subsumed into the other that, like Siamese twins, one must be sacrificed.

No significance whatever is implied. Turbulent thoughts, lacking streamlined logic when captured momentarily, throw up curiously concatenated ideas.

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