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No Straight Lines

2 min

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I was going to start this essay by saying that "there are no straight lines in nature."

ChatGPT told me otherwise:


Then again, that's not quite accurate, is it?

Depends on what we mean when we say "straight." If we mean "straight in the mathematical sense, the platonic ideal of 'straight,' perfectly straight with no deviation," then no, rock formations are not "straight." Certainly not the "veins in a leaf."

The question is not all there is; we intuitively look for the context the question exists within, and answer accordingly. So this answer is both somewhat accurate AND inaccurate simultaneously.

But let's take another step back:

Why ask this question in the first place?

I'm not asking because I'm trying to get to the bottom of some kind of material truth about nature.

Instead, I'm trying to express something about how the organic differs from the inorganic, namely:

The organic is defined by variation.

Nothing is "perfect" in nature, in the sense that all continues on as it started in perpetuity.

Our heartbeats vary in speed. Our temperature varies by degree. Our productivity varies by the day, by the hour, by the minute. Our attention spans vary depending on the task. Our emotions - our very perspective on the world - varies based on our upbringing, how our day went, and how much glucose is racing through our bloodstream.

ChatGPT missed the point of the question because I was only asking the question as an imperfect, roundabout way of saying something else.

It was never about straight lines. It was always about me, and you, and the ways in which we expect inorganic behavior from organic beings.

The answer was literal. The question was metaphorical.

If you had asked me this question, I would have answered:

"No, there are no straight lines in nature.

There is only infinite variation.

So why are you beating yourself up

for being imperfect?

It is the gift of imperfection,

that gives organic life its meaning."



Everything You Can't Have.

A thoughtful little essay by Morgan Housel on the desire for desire...and the danger in getting what you want.

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