I Think, Silly

Number Fetish

Do you like numbers? It is perhaps a stupid question, but I like them, some more than the others.

The first number that I like (and almost everyone does) is undoubtedly 1. This number possesses an elusiveness, a certain seductive appeal that so many people spend much of their life chasing it. Such is its wonder that it sort of shadows the next numbers 2 and 3, they sort of look second and third class compared to it. Four isnt much better but makes it up by virtue of being a square. Almost all squares, cubes, … nth powers are likable. Its easy for people to like the numbers 5, 7, 8(although people have a superstitious dislike for the number 8) and 9, the first real ordinary number is 6, which IMO has to do with being surrounded by giants.

Lets move on a step further. The next set of numbers that are worthy of admiration are the primes. Numbers like 11, 13, 17, 23 arent likable at first look. But there is a certain rebellious tendency among these numbers, a certain independence, whole and indivisible nature that makes me secretly admire them, these are the che’s and bhagat singh’s of the number system.

We as humans are designed to deal with numbers on a reasonable scale, although we play around with the giga-tera-numbers and micro-pico-fractions(with the help of machines), there are very few among us who can truly appreciate such numbers and I am certainly not one of them. The reasonable scale in my case is somewhere around 100, numbers within this limit I can profile and judge. Not saying that this is a hard limit. There are some numbers outside this range that stand out, for example 1024 or 729 or 121. Ofcourse I can judge the likability of numbers randomly thrown at me(which are also within a reasonable range). For example there is very little to think about a number like say 537, this is less likable than say 357 or 753. One may argue that it is probably because it doesnt follow a pattern, and in that sense it is like the primes. The difference between primes and a number like 537 is similar to the difference between Che and a local dada. It is not just the oddity(odd here denotes both odd numbers1,3,5 and also numbers not fitting into a pattern) of numbers that makes them appealing(or not). A number like say 614 is just as bland as the 537.

In one sense numbers are like people, or maybe people are like numbers, very few stand out as are truly wonderful, the rest of them are, ironically there to just fill up the numbers. Regardless, each number has a unique personality, and I have reached the point where I cant make up my mind as to whether people are like numbers or is it the other way around.