Letters and Numbers

What gives me reason to think I can stitch together a small sample of all the available words in the English language to create something new? Any word I might choose to use has been used before, very probably in concert with every other word I might select. Thus the product of my word-stitching is not something fresh and unique; it is simply a mathematical factorial using clumps of letters in place of numbers. Yet even in the steely coldness of mathematics, paying close attention reveals unexpected artistry, symmetry of such stunning beauty that words cannot begin to describe it. For example, the spirals of the nautilus shell often are said to conform to the golden ratio, a mathematical expression wherein the relationship between two quantities is the same ratio as the ratio of the larger of the two quantities to their sum.

So, if beauty can reside within the inflexible certainty of numbers, certainly it can flourish within language that bends and stretches in uncertain and unexpected ways. Even with my resources limited to twenty-six letters, sufficient variety exists to enable me to write, creatively, in my own unique style. The attainment of facility with validating mathematical proofs takes years; in mathematics, objective proof is the arbiter of truth. But unlike mathematics, the truth of language is not subject to proof. Mathematics derives its power from relationships between values, quantities both abstract and concrete. Where does language derive its power? I think language owes its power to relationships between values, as well. I simply haven’t explored it deeply enough to understand them. I must continue to write until I do.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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