I was playing the other day. Often people ask me, “Why” (especially in relation to some thing I propose to do) and I often return the favor, “Why not?” The presumption behind the first “why” is that things are good enough as they are, why rock the boat? The presumption behind the second is that things could actually be better. The hinge has to do, I wager, with the unpredictability of change. Things could be better, or they could be worse! If the risk appears 50/50 (or more like 10, 20, or 30 “better” to the corresponding fear of 90, 80, 70 “worse”) then we’re led to the most common outcome, premised upon things being tolerable enough as they are, thank you!
In other words, why get all tangled up?
The homonymality of not/knot struck me with inspiration the other day, as I realized part of the question of “why” is a concern with winding up in a knot. I’m thinking not only of the most obvious, literal knot – all twisted and tied up together, but dynamically, in terms of social relations and time, i.e., dialogue or discourse?
My mind has been abuzz all semester with the concepts of physics as a means to illuminate group dynamics. This is not a new interest, by far, but as I become more familiar with definitions and principles, I become increasingly convinced that sociality can be described with similar concepts, albeit with somewhat less reliability. 🙂 Ain’t it grand that life and human individuality keep us always guessing?!
“Mathematicians also study knots, but they have different concerns [than those who study the literal versions]: which knots can be untied without cutting the rope, how many different knots are there and how can we tell if two complex knots are the same or different?” – Gnomen, h2g2
The challenge in human relations, no doubt, is to discern which knots to try to untie, and which knots to create and re-create, ever more securely.