X to Zero and Zero to X
People often ask me what I think is the opposite of zero expecting me to say ‘infinity’ but of course zero and infinity are the same thing. Whilst the quest for opposites is fascinating, the reality of where we find our living and being is in the in-between, in the dialectic, in the hyphen. If you are seeking salvation in safety through black and white, you’re in the wrong religion.
There are however some interesting semiotics around the notion of 0 and if there was any opposition it might be the X.
Of course, the opposite of metrics, mechanics and numerics is Poetics that is, all the things we participate in that cannot be measured. It is in all things Poetic in life that we seek to express Love, Faith, Hope and Justice. When we are lost for words in an experience or emotion we often only have song, dance, semiotics and gesture, all of which cannot be measured. Safety talks zero about any of this.
Whilst 0 is the expression of both infinity and nothing, the X is the expression of the fully exposed and vulnerable human in their extremities. When we stand ‘spread eagled’ we can be searched, are a big target and are most visible and vulnerable. The X has always been a sign of fragility, extremity and paradox.
It is fascination to see how the X is presented in the semiotics of marketing. A few of the following are worth noting:
X for kiss
Skull n X bones
The list is endless and the history of X is also fascinating:
When we think about the X we think of extremity, vulnerability, exposure and risk. This was capture beautifully by Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man (https://mymodernmet.com/leonardo-da-vinci-vitruvian-man/ ). The ‘spread eagle’ symbol is the X and marks the spot for all out extremities.
However, no fallible human can live for long in any extremity, such is only momentary. Similarly, the quest for infinity is nonsense. The real message of the 0-X dialectic is that daily living is always in-between, it is never in binary polarities.
As much as any organization makes their language zero, regardless of being branded as ‘vision’, there is no vision. The language of zero will always alienate normal fallible people and can only ever lead to brutalism. Zero is the demonstration of a lack of vision. When you have no imagination, creativity or clue in what you are doing, just go for a numeric. Plus 1, minus 1 or zero, it makes no difference, when your worldview and discourse is framed by a number (https://safetyrisk.net/its-always-a-number/) you have no vision. Such language can never be visionary for fallible people who know in their daily vulnerable lives that they do their best and even if for only a millisecond can never sustain the quest for X either.
If you want to know more about the semiotics of X read: Pelkey, J., (2017) The Semiotics of X, Chiasmus, Cognition and Extreme Body Memory. Bloomsbury, London.