Benoit Mandelbrot appears to be a character plucked straight from the pages of Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He is in fact a Polish-born mathematician and polymath with dual French-American citizenship. Amongst many other things, he expanded the knowledge of fractal geometry, that is shapes that contain detailed structure at arbitrarily small scale, usually having a fractal dimension strictly exceeding the topological dimension.
No, I have no idea what that means either, but apparently the image above is a ‘fractal’; that is to say the closer one gets, the more shapes appear similar to the starting point and on into infinity.
I could, of course, use a thousand mathematicians, philosophers, scientist, musicians, artists, writers and many others as examples of people with brains the size of a very large thing, but the name Benoit Mandelbrot jumped out at me for reasons I could not explain. There is a phrase that I don’t entirely like but perhaps fits in here nicely: these people are capable of thinking ‘outside the box’.
Thinking outside the box – how far is too far?
There are many humans who might appear to some of the more conventionally minded among us to have let their thinking wander a bit too far outside the box.
I am not talking of children who genuinely imagine themselves as horses or cats for a period in their lives – there was a period in my own early life when I imagined myself to be superman and that I had the power of flight. I even made myself a flying cape (green, it was).I would merrily skip down the street flapping my magic cape,but it never did quite get me off the ground, even when I ran very fast and added an extra big skip at the end. Perhaps that was because it was green and not red. I eventually decided it was never going to work and dumped it when I reached 30 years old.
Nor am I suggesting this applies to people who genuinely believe that they were born into the wrong gender and after much deliberation find a surgeon to carry out the necessary changes to satisfy their needs. I truly hope that they find peace and happiness in their lives.
Groups that I do have a great deal of trouble understanding are people who have a fixed belief that they are something very dramatically non-human and surgeons who are willing to bring about grotesque and permanent changes in such people’s bodies. It is a wonder to me that medical personnel can permanently disfigure a fellow human for financial gain so that the patient takes on the appearance of what we have become to believe as Satan or a dragon. Procedures can go as far as removing fingers, the nose and ears, undergoing full-face tattooing including the eyeballs, splitting the tongue, adding fangs, horns and assorted lumps and bumps.
As far as I can establish, many, if not all, are good-looking examples of a human before these procedures; in fact, some were very handsome or very pretty before visiting the surgeon but just could not live with themselves the way they were. Madness in many ways and in all ways very sad.
More thinking outside the[shoe] box …
Anyway, to get away from this human need to permanently disfigure, a subject, like many others, that I know nothing about. I will expand on a ramble I wrote many months ago named ‘Norky’s ramblings: a walk to St Aidan’s RSPB, Castleford’. The story was told to me by a lady who was a health visitor in Leeds in her previous life.
One of her duties was to check on establishments of dubious pleasure, and during one visit she was told of a gentleman who liked to crawl around on all fours with clogs tied to his genitalia and make clippy-cloppy sounds with the clogs. Another more recent story was told to my daughter Rachel by her friend who, to protect the guilty, we shall name Hilda here.
Hilda buys very expensive and quality footwear and she had decided to sell a pair of used fluffy pink slippers on eBay, who suggested that she put them in their fetish category. Hilda was mildly offended by this suggestion and refused to consider the idea. However, she still got emails from a chap who was keen to buy the slippers but insisted that she didn’t wash them, and apparently the sale was carried out in the traditional manner.
Well, Hilda got another last week.
This time Hilda was selling a quality pair of classy ladies’ brogue shoes again on eBay. She began to receive emails from a chap who requested that she took a recording of her feet wearing the aforementioned shoe while she stamped on some toy cars that he would send to her. Rachel suggested that Hilda was having her on, so Hilda sent Rachel a screenshot of the correspondence as evidence.
Being a good Yorkshire lass, Hilda asked ‘How much?’ He apparently offered the going rate of £82, which seems an odd precise number to me, however one to which Hilda agreed, and the chap didn’t even want the shoes, just the recording.
The remarkable human mind
It all seems very odd to me, but who am I to say? Perhaps clogs, frilly pink slippers and ladies’ brogue shoes are but the tip of that particular iceberg. It’s a funny old world.
The extent that the human mind can wonder is remarkable and of course none of the above even begins to scratch the surface. Most of us are happy to trundle along in our boring humdrum lives, not bothering anyone else and hoping that no one bothers us.
This is life, perhaps not as we know it, Jim, (a reference that Star Trek fans will recognise) but what a fascinating place it is.