A non-Mathematics student: Mathematics is just a social construct.
A Mathematics student named M.: No, bitch.
(Actual conversation accidentally read in a Facebook comment to a “God, help me with math” post.)
Each of the following scenes has an interval of one year.
Time-segment 1 (Scene 1) M.’s diffused, un-named Nothing; Illustrating the idea of “simple absence”
M. is roaming along and enjoying D.’s Park one afternoon. M. is a young straight female middle-middle-class non-pagan pure mathematician and has no boyfriend and doesn’t care. She is walking along the park, saw LGBTQ+ lovers there in varied permutations of amorousness, but not having been moved by a ‘need’ to have a boyfriend, she is blissfully ignorant of the weight of those things. She walks as if she saw nothing. She merely counted the number of pairings, measured in her mind the distances of each set, and tried configuring if their varied modes of embraces follow some topological transformation rules.
Time-segment 2 (Scene 2) M. starts a life haunted by a Named Nothing; Illustrating the idea of weird “presence” and “Thing”
M. sits in MX’s Cafeteria, eating lunch, and is befriended by H.. H. is a vivacious young lesbian upper-middle-class non-pagan applied mathematician. She shared stories with M. about her fantastic love-life and her hyper-fantastic and “accelerationist” lover. That last signifier-in-quotes was intentionally left undefined by H. to simply serve as a seductive “x” in their conversation. And because they can’t help transcending their disciplinal fixation with math, in the course of two hours of collegial chit-chats about excitable nothings, their talks started to wrap itself into almost-mathematical shapings: ‘assume that you, M., have a boyfriend; now, let x be the number of times you see each other with amorous embracings per week…’ And other harmless geeky-musings of that sort were added and multiplied.
But what’s the effect on M. from all these? She went back to her apartment now accompanied by a positivized Nothing of a No-Boyfriend. She sleeps, takes a bath, eats, accompanied by the positivised sense that, My God!, how maximally lonely this life is without even a minimally-valued Boyfriend, unlike that H., that bitch! She started living a cursed life haunted by the aura of No-Boyfriend.
Time-segment 3 (Scene 3) M., just broke up with her year-long first-boyfriend, and is now haunted by memories of that Lost-Boyfriend, a Positive Nothing in her present no-more-boyfriend moment of living; Illustrating the idea of “lost object”
M. is sitting in a far corner of the library, trying to solve some word problems involving set theory. She cannot focus her attention because thoughts about her lost boyfriend are nibbling like negative factorial rodents in her computational mind. She recalled how, for negligible, trivial, almost-nothing-of-value reasons, she quarreled in high magnitude with “R”. Less than a quarter of an hour later, M. and “R” were hurling invectives and counter-invectives at each other and ended cancelling abruptly their relationship, reducing it to Zero, and so How crazy, human situations can become, stupid, stupid, stupid!
Time-segment 4 (Scene 4) M. got a second, brand-new Boyfriend but is still Not-Happy; Illustrating the idea of actual objects caught in the horizon of “fantasy”
M. is with “Q”, holding-hands, sitting in the park-bench and people-watching one afternoon in D’s Park. All of a sudden, she is struck by inner terrors realizing that she cannot help making a matrix of comparison across finite variables between this present “Q” and her year-long-lost “R”. She convulsed deeply inside, finally grasping the reality of an (im)possible Life with “Q” forever haunted by the empty-coordinates of these spaces evacuated by “R”, and so My God! why can’t these crazy Nothings leave us alone!
Time-segment 5 (The Final Scene, Thanks God, Scene 5)
M. cancelled her boyfriend-relationship the second time, fully affirmed the Maximal Value of Nothing, and ended up just loving herself (and Mathematics, which she now dubbed as “the highest expression of formalizing Nothing via Set Theory and C.’s Mathematics of Infinity”); Illustrating the idea of “negation of negation”
M. is sipping a drink, alone, in a beach in S. A while ago, she is reading B.’s TLW and enjoyed doing side computations of algebraic/set-theoretic formulations on the sides of the book’s fascinatingly lucid pages. M. is still the same young straight female middle-middle-class non-pagan pure mathematician as we knew her five years ago. Nothing changed but the proper self-consciously thought place of Nothing in her life. She is planning to start seriously reading H.’s PS once she is through with 2 B.’s (and 3 or 4 Ž.’s, of course, as minor correctiveto B.’s ‘system’). She looks back on her past five years of life and concluded that there are five and only five possible combinatorics available for humans in their crazy dance with Nothings and she is supremely happy to have gone through all those modes of combinations.
She fully affirmed the power of Mathematics and Infinity and, at that exact moment of her beach-life musings, she experienced a whiff of what it is like to be Immortal and not fearing Death and Nothing. To become Immortal, and then to Die, she recalled a line from a JLG film she watched years ago without understanding, but which, now, she felt she can now grasp with (in H.’s style) “Absolute Knowing”.
Having dealt squarely, finally, with all these bothering metaphysical and positivized Nothings inherent in all actual-symbolic life, M. joined a formally-organized, non-anarchic, mass movement for liberative and all-round human flourishing named NDX and devoted her life of true and blessed singleness mobilizing the power of mathematics in the service of the people’s struggles.
Theoretical purpose and intention of the sketch/film: To underline the real and effective power of Nothing in everyday life of (poor) humans.
Alternate theoretical intent: To illustrate why Positivism and Empiricism, which both do not know how to deal properly and respectfully with Nothing, are bankrupt standpoints and are not good foundations for a true Science.
Moral intent of the sketch/film: To teach humans how to make friends with Nothing.
Hal Odetta is a pen name. He is an anthropologist who teaches at the University of the Philippines and works with the Manobo indigenous peoples of Mindanao.