I like triangles. If you cut one in half, you have two triangles. If you cut both of those in half, you have four. You can do this forever and ever, getting tinier triangles each time. If you try to do this with paper, you will have to stop at one point because your fingers are too big, but theoretically, these triangles will just get smaller and smaller forever, but never disappear. This shows a concept known as infinity and would appear as an asymptote if you were to graph it.

***

In my first seminar for BCM311 this week, we opened a semester-long conversation about narrative practice and identity. The first exercise was an attempt at the Myer Briggs personality test. Based on my responses to a number of multiple choice questions, I was ranked as introverted over extroverted (amongst other things). As Kate so rightly pointed out, that test is only an accurate indicator of my personality at a certain hour of that Tuesday afternoon from a particular seat in the back row of a classroom in building 19. My nerves at sitting my first BCM311 seminar, at interacting with certain people and even my seat at the back of the room are likely to have influenced my result.

Does this result make me 100% introverted? Of course not. I totally identify with introversion, but I still need other people’s energy to function at my peak. I’ll give it a rough 3:2 ratio for introversion:extroversion. The word “introvert” does not tell my whole story. Automated tests like this are commonplace nowadays (unfortunately) but their accuracy is severely limited by a black-or-white mentality.

*But what about the grey? Why don’t these tests consider that a person may fit into more than one category?*

Thinking about how an automated test can give us that sort of two dimensional identity took me back to a high school conversation. Since subject selections in year ten, teachers told us we would be either maths/science oriented or lean more towards English and the humanities. I could never make a decision. It’s not that I am particularly indecisive; I just really enjoy the intense focus of crunching hard equations and logical theory *as well as *learning about people in the world and writing stories. I took a multitude of career quizzes online. They all gave me different results. I ended up taking maths, English, and a combination of science and humanities subjects in between. I chose a Bachelor of Communication & Media Studies/Bachelor of Commerce using the same principles.

***

Let’s move back to triangles. More recently, I have found that fate is travelling in threes (around me, at least). Events, symbols and people are manifesting in trios and it’s been fascinating for me to track. This only reinforces my vision of the world as being made up of triangles. It’s a harmonious, structured view. I have an inherent need to understand the people around me. I’m less anxious if I can understand their motives and desires, as well as past events which drive them to act or speak the way that they do. That’s a heavy humanitarian instinct.

How do I work this out? With maths. I’m a heavy believer in fate. Events are pushed onto us and they never occur sporadically. I use maths to draw connections, determine common factors. I even used basic economic principles to graph why things did not work out between me and an old flame. If I’m going to open up to someone or otherwise take some sort of risk, I brainstorm all the possible outcomes and analyse the likelihood of each. That becomes a graph too.

I’m an avid journal writer, and have been for more than three years. My notebooks are as much filled with graphs, sums, codes and shapes as they are prose. If I had to classify this, I would call it humanitarian thinking with mathematical methodology and motive.

You don’t have to tell me this makes no sense. I already know it doesn’t. My point is that the human mind is a complex machine and a standardised, quantitative examination is only going to skim the surface of an individual’s personality or way of thinking (if that).

-Claire

Mathematicians I know see the world through the art of calculation–the constant rebalancing of shape and numbers. They think as artists. Reading your post I realise I have several habits of counting as I go through my day. I count to myself when I fill a kettle; I count steps in fours when I walk. But I find shapes and proportion really difficult to assess with accuracy. So I arrange furniture badly.

Now I’m really intrigued by the idea of probabilities in relationships. And I hope to think more about maths patterns and narrative patterns. This is very fruitful.

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I loved this blog! So interesting to read as i’ve always sided with the English and the humanities and always believed that everyone else identifies with one as well. Your interest in maths has spun so well into this post and your thoughts behind last week’s topic! The way you’ve translated maths into your idea’s behind the topic actually make so much sense to someone who has no clue about anything to do with maths, (cough me) . Infact this same person finds the topic of maths relatively boring so I’m incredibly impressed with this post! The way you look at the world and the way you discuss that in this post is so interesting and actually, in fact, it does make alot of sense!

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I’m incredibly intrigued by the way you use maths to work things out & make sense of things and people. One of my favourite lines in this post was when you described yourself as ” humanitarian thinking with mathematical methodology and motive”. I think that does a great job of really highlighting the grey areas people tend to avoid or not give attention too. A lot of the time it’s often just second nature to think in binaries. You’re right to say that for a lot of people, it’s either art/humanities or math/science. I really think this entire blogpost is a great example of how the two when brought together can bring something so wonderful and insightful and new altogether. 🙂

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I really enjoy when I read a blog that is so different to my train of thought and so different to the perspective I had on a subject. Really shows the depth and variations in interpretation. x

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I get your point; the Meyers Briggs and other personality tests don’t account for the complexities of personality. However… you sound like a replica of my INTP friend. I can’t help but notice the similarities

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