[ by Charles Cameron — numbers as analytic categories, two, the duel and the duet ]
Charles Darwin once said of his fellow species biologists:
Those who make many species are the “splitters,” and those who make few are the “lumpers”.
The diagram above represents a card-game I’ve played on occasion in my mind, asking myself the question: what is the opposite of one?
Two is the usual answer — and it’s interesting, you can get there from one two ways: by adding, or by dividing.
The human mind very often thinks in binaries, we talk about us and them, friend and foe, the Allies and the Axis Powers, and even an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth – our ideas of warfare, contest and justice alike are predicated on the number two.
As I said in my intro post, one is a single data point, perhaps an anomaly: two is a duel or a duet, an opposition or a trend.
So we don’t always have to think of us and them — we could also think about me and mine, you and yours, two heads are better than one…
And what if you can “turn” your enemy? Then the duel turns into a duet.
The duel is all about two competing, contending, fighting, agonizing to see who shall be the one. It is arguably the most basic form of combat, the simplest, and possibly the most profound. It can be close to symmetric — “they were perfectly matched” — or the very essence of asymmetric — David and Goliath.
The duet is about two collaborating, counterpointing, harmonizing — seeing how, together, they are one…
War-fighting and music-making, war and peace, regiment and free form, the march and the dance…
I am eager to know what sorts of insights you can derive from or find echoed in this series of posts.