Logic frightens and disarms me. I have no weapons against it and fall down, dumb and dazed in its wake. I've never understood any statement beginning with the words, "Moreover, if x is to c as c is to z, such that. . ." My daughter does logic puzzles (for the fun of it!), leaving them around the house, and every once in a while, I sneak a peek and read something like the following:
If five mice (F G H I J) are made to run through a maze with five little mouse compartments (1 2 3 4 5), and no compartment can hold more than one mouse at a time but all the mice must leave the comfort of their own tiny shelter and go to someone else's when the bell rings, and if F must never go to 3 or 4, and J must never go to 2 or 5 (although how they know this, how they even know their own letters without tiny mouse name tags, is a mystery to me), and if J is in 1 and K is in 3 at the start of the race, and if F is in 2 and H is in 5, and I am in misery, then where are all the freaking mice when the bell finally rings?
The first three words alone, "If five mice," still give me the shivers. Instead of explaining the world and my little role in it, logic confuses and stymies me, and I stop hearing what anyone is saying and turn into a bimbo, mentally leaping onto kitchen chairs at even the theoretical rushing about of tiny mouse feet, not to mention the high-pitched peals of squeaky mouse pain (I'm sure pain is involved) with rodent gladiators fighting tooth and claw at the doors to mouse-holes 1 through 5. And who ever thought of naming the mice F G H I J? Out of sequence, they're indecipherable, hieroglyphic, especially for someone like me, who, when learning a speech by heart, has to start all over from the very beginning when someone asks me, "What's for dinner, Mom?" Why didn't the puzzle makers start with the letter A? (If they're wearing lab coats, we know their socks keep falling down and they blew up squidlike, inky cuttlefish in the chemistry lab as boys and girls.) If you're trying to remember someone's name that begins with the letter A but the alphabet begins with the letter F, and if you count the letters on your fingers, so to speak, as I do, you have to work your way through all the letters up to Z before you get back to the beginning, where you should have started in the first place, and where's the logic in that?
Logic must make a certain kind of sense, coming as it does from the Greek for reason, and there are two sides to my brain, puny as they may be, but they're like the split-personality twins in Gemini, standing back to back without even knowing of the other's existence Still, I should be able to use them both or else I'll never understand why, when I open my brand new calendar for the brand new year, it tells me that January 2nd is "The Day After New Year's Day (NZ and Scotland)," or why men's shirts button one way and women's another, or the meaning of Russell's sentence: "You may say, without apparent contradiction, that Mr. A is an uncle; but if you were to say that the Universe is an uncle, you would land yourself in difficulties." If only I could think in a logical way, I'd see the double meaning in the 1935 archaeological textbook title about the abandoned Anasazi village, "Dating Pueblo Bonito and Other Ruins of the Southwest." So I quickly open the book again, looking for the page of my torture, my destiny. "Breathe now," I think. "Don't be afraid. The Universe isn't an uncle." I screw up my courage, determined to solve the puzzle before my daughter gets home. Then, pen and paper at the ready, I begin to read, slowly, very slowly. "If five mice…"
B R A V E S O U L S R E C E I V E
Archive of Recent Activities