Saturday, August 13, 2016

What's a Little Triangulation among Friends?

 Measuring distances between two points seems simple enough; any measuring device such as a yardstick, surveyor's transit, ruler or even a piece of string will do for starters. That is, if the two points are stationary. And not people.

The fact of two individuals being a foot or so apart becomes an immediate matter of relativism, in which their past and present attitudes toward one another apply. One individual may, at a given moment, be a foot away from another person in terms of physical proximity, but the same individual may have reached some point of impending rupture with respect to some trait, say lack of promptness, or other aspects of untrustworthiness, and the present activity, the deal breaker, would override any physical proximity.

Thanks to trigonometry and geometry, another method of measurement emerges, using triangles instead of mere tape measures, this method for determining  the location of a third point. Thus we have the concept of triangulation, introduced not only to the physical sciences but as well to such man-made concepts as logic, philosophy, even social sciences and psychology.

Given the useful tools of trigonometry and geometry for determining relationships between various points, you find yourself considering triangulation, or the use of triangles to determine and, indeed, measure positions as a useful tool to apply to story. 

Early in your consideration of triangulation as a potential for measuring the physical and emotional states of various persons within a specific story, you saw how, logical as the concept of triangulation is, it remains nevertheless a human form of measuring events and positions, just as story is a human form of measuring events and positions.

Without humans to apply triangulation, there would be no need for it because the world without humans was evolving on its own time span, although with no humans to record it, nevertheless with consequences and a potential for the movement out of the ocean onto land that produced a number of species including our own.  

Without humans, the occasional band of pack-traveling animals might use some form of geometry or triangulation to trap an evening's meal, but the matters of geography, trigonometry, and story would have to wait until humans came along with an evolved need for such tools.

Story is certainly a tool; it can help us better visualize observed behavior. Story can also help us profit from past experience and triangulate with some--but not entire--potential into a future point where, for instance, if we don't save some of these acorns for times when the world is covered with snow and ice and when a number of roaming species either migrate or find ways to go dormant, then we will be screwed.

The more we understand ourselves as a species and as distinct individuals, the more we have use for triangulation because, as our information and observations increase, the greater the likelihood we'll resort to some behavior that might not be to our longterm advantage. 

Like the early bird, we may indeed get the worm but we are reaching a time when we need to better consider what we are going to do with all these worms. We may well discover we've been missing a number of possibilities. We may also, in our desire to be the early bird, missing out on something of greater survival value than worms.

You've been trying for over fifty years to teach yourself how to communicate, first and foremost with yourself, although you did not know this at the time. You thought of story as a recipe, in which you added equivalents of flour, eggs, baking soda, perhaps even yeast. The results were as effective as most recipes from most cookbooks. It took your mother, who was more or less forced into cooking, to achieve a true understanding of the chemistry of elements needed to produce a varied array of appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, and, ah, yes, deserts.

Through observation and triangulation, you've moved beyond the strict adherence to recipe and come closer to the place your mother was when she merged with the chemistry of the understanding of the elements of food.

You are out in the streets, the coffee shops, the class rooms, the bookstores, and the untrodden alleyways of your imagination, as alert for angles as you were that first time you thought you were ready for a custom-made pool cue.

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