The Principle of Arithmeticolinguistic Equivalence

As I walked out of the exam hall yesterday, one of my friends asked me, ‘How did the exam go?’ To which I replied, ‘Not bad.’ The next question was a googly: ‘So you’re saying it was good? That it was easy for you?’ HELL NO!! That wasn’t what I was trying to convey at all.

And that got me thinking… Good is the opposite of bad. And not is a word that is used for negation. So not bad should mean good, right? I realized that it wasn’t that simple and that there can be varying degrees of negation in language. That it isn’t like Boolean algebra: it’s not just about the zeroes and ones. All the numbers in between also matter. So on a scale of zero to one, with zero being really easy and one being insanely tough, I’d rate my exam as being a 0.42. In other words, it wasn’t half bad. Notice how even though I used the word half, it didn’t exactly signify a difficulty that corresponds to 0.5. That would be best described as an ‘okay exam.’ It’s precisely this: this non-equivalence that makes language beautiful. There might be poetry in mathematics and there might be mathematics in poetry, but I don’t think you can equate the two and call it ‘The Principle of Arithmeticolinguistic Equivalence.’

And this crazy beauty isn’t just confined to language. It extends to life as well. Everything isn’t just plain black or white. There’s plenty of grey in between as well. Fifty Shades of Grey, according to EL James. That’s why every cloud has a silver lining. It’s why what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. It’s why you don’t know who you sympathize with, when you watch a movie like The Prestige. One moment you’re rooting for Hugh Jackman’s character and the very next, you realize you feel sorry for Christian Bale’s character. I felt the same while watching Rush. My loyalties kept switching from James Hunt to Nikki Lauda throughout the course of the film. It wasn’t just about the acting, it was also about the writing. In both films, the rivals had plenty of grey in their characters that ensured that it wasn’t just a simple case of good versus evil. It wasn’t a Ramayana, if you will. Both sides were right, and both sides were wrong. Simultaneously. The definitions of good and evil might seem mutually exclusive but the reality is far from it. And now suddenly we’ve crossed over to the realm of quantum physics. It’s why light can simultaneously considered to be both a particle and a wave.

That’s all the philosophy I’ve got for today… Peace out.

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