the games we playFebruary 23, 2006
when my brother and i were wee, my dad used to print math questions on the ol’ (well, new then) office dot matrix. we’d busy ourselves with lengthy addition/subtraction, or with learning multiplication/division. i have a hunch this youthful play heavily informed my relationship with numbers…
during my teens, i developed an esoteric, even superstitious, relationship with numbers. i followed number patterns closely, checking their significance as omens or signs for what was happening around me. i used to watch the “rule of three” unfold around similar events. in winter 1995 close to my high-school rural home, three old barns (100+ years) collapsed due to the weight of the snow. the same winter but in 1996, three more old barns collapsed. it was bizarre to see these legendary, gargantuan structures in the middle of nowhere all bite the dust in the same winter season. rule of three. rule of three. what are the odds?
also in high school, i created a basic number pattern game i used to doodle ad nauseum. i’d use a name, word, or short sentence and count the number of times a letter occurred linearly to that point, switching to count numbers once i got to the end of the line. i didn’t have any particular goal or deciding “win” factor for the game; i think it was more a brain-exercise.
A N G E L A R A W L I N G S
1 1 1 1 1 2 1 3 1 2 1 2 2 1
9 9 9 9 9 4 9 1 10 4 10 4 4 10
and yes, i have played yahtzee by myself. let us not speak of it further. if i had five dice in my home today, i’d probably play solitary yahtzee to stave off cabin fever in the depths of february’s bowels.
i had (have) a penchant for number mnemonics as well. phone number memorization’s a big one for me… 248-2517… 2×4=8, 2+5×1=7… at work, i’ve been using mnemonics to keep track of isbns. the thrilling thing (back to that ol’ superstition) occurs in the coincidental (maaaaaybe?) relevance of each isbn to its book. an example: frogments‘ final numbers: 1-55128-112-0… 2 authors collaborate to make a big pond splash (0). i dunno; to me, it just felt like the exhaustive translation/riff quality of the book seeped directly into the isbn; i loved such synchronicity.
today, i had a peek at wide slumber‘s isbn (ends in 69-0). it may be a tad grade-eight of me, but a sexual reference in the isbn — w00t! it so meshes with the content. couldn’t have been a better number. and the 0: egg, mouth wide open, eye wide open, and the entrance to the book (as figure one).
that isbn had immediate numberish significance for me, which lead to this numerical pondering. come to think of it, i’ve never discussed these number fixations en masse. maybe they’re better left as an unspoken quirk in my personality… or maybe you experience a similar quirk? do share… the comments link is just a click away…