How Numbers Don’t Work
There have been plenty of posts wondering about the omnipresence of 3 and 9 in the novel. It’s fascinating but seems still unclear. I wonder, though, if the neatness of 3 and 9 is a bit of misdirect by MD. It seems significant that the both early and later in the novel we are given the paradox of zero, i..e that multiplying by zero can lead to a set of equations in which, by mathematical logic, 1=2 (see pp. 59 and 771). Meanwhile, we get other numbers that add up but don’t: Jingjing counts two sets of 5 people to get 9, so 10 =9; Isandorno has four animal crates, but he claims to have three, so 4=3. So what do we do with this? I’m not entirely sure. I would suggest, for one, that MD keeps imploring to try to think beyond our sense of natural orders (such as time and space). We must work within paradoxes; think of the famous Schrodinger’s cat (aha!) that is both dead and alive, thus, when does something become one or the other? We can’t know how it fits into the bigger picture yet, but I’m suggesting that we have to somehow get comfortable with accepting contradictory possibilities in MD’s gigantic world.