One and Other

Hello again folks. Sorry I wasn’t around last issue, but there were some unexpected complications that have been, I think, cleared up. I’m now aiming to do my best in providing a weekly something or Other to read. Yeah, it might not always be pretty, but hey, neither is life, and writers, I guess, better write about what they know — about life as they’ve experienced it — than write about things they don’t know. I mean, that is often what gets said, anyway.

So I’m shooting for a weekly column to share some of the things I think I might know, but perhaps there will be difficulties in communicating these things to readers of The Voice. Communication is merely the “middle-man” of language use, or more refined–the messages and the language they are expressed in are simply the interim and vehicle of any communication, but the meaning is found in the “I” of the interpreter via the language of the One who generates. This is to say that a signal containing meaningful information is first formulated by a sender — One who intends to mean something — but that something is found within the act of interpretation that the receiver engages in to decode the signal.

As an aging pop song goes, “it takes two to make things go right,” and I tend to agree. With this in mind, I figured it’d be good, if One is interested in interpreting some of my own language use and abuse, to offer readers an explanation on why the heck I capitalize the ‘o’ in the words ‘One’ and ‘Other’ regardless of whether or not these words are used at the beginning of a sentence or not. This little eccentricity certainly flies in the face of conventional standards regarding use of the English language. Hey, if there’s One thing I might have a reputation for, at least with some, it’s flying in the face of convention, and it’s often a turbulent flight! But not today, I hope. So, as it is sometimes said, “let’s get buiz-zay!”

Now One is the first thing, the beginning. Sure, sure, zero comes before One, but zero is literally “nothing,” and so we cannot really count it as a beginning, but that which is transcendent of any sort of initial thing. As mentioned above, a communication begins with One — the One formulating the message to be broadcast! One may also signify a singular self — the One who is “I”. This I could be any One — you, me, her, etc. As Hegel (1979) took some pains to illustrate in his Phenomenology of Spirit, there is, interestingly enough, no singular One who is I over a series of time. Thus, even in its singularity as One, I is multifaceted, complex, and is able to refer to a plethora of beings, but all in turn.

However, relative to One, there must be an Other. If One comes into being from nothing, then zero is an Other relative to One. And, as far as numbers go, there comes from One and infinity of Others: 2, 3, 4, 5, and so on, ad infinitum. When we are talking numbers, we can see that the Others all standing together in contrast to One are incredibly rich and complex, but each of these Others would have no existence if it weren’t for the One that stands as the first thing in the series. But let’s get away from numbers for the time being, let’s get back to people.

The reception of a broadcast lies in the Others who have received a signal from the One who sent it. If there were no Others to intercept the messages that One formulates, there wouldn’t be any meaningful communication. However, as mentioned previously, the One who receives any communication is the same One who makes it meaningful via his or her interpretation, and so, we see here how the roles reverse in a bit of a Mobius twist: the two-sided band of One and Other wraps around and feeds into itself such that the Other comes to be the One in which meaning arises.

Put differently, each of us is One who sends and receives signals via the Other. It takes two to make the circle of communication complete. Without One and Other, there is no real sense in which communication exists. It’s a little cycle, a circle, an “O”, within which no One is entirely alone, and no Other is not also One.

So this is a ‘quick and dirty’ explanation as to why this One capitalizes the letter “o” when it occurs in the words “One” and “Other”. To this One it serves as a reminder that, even if my interpretations begin with me, and my world extends outwards from me, the Other is right there with me, and indeed, is not only with me, but within me. I am an Other to countless other Ones, as they are Others relative to me. Every One of us is entirely reliant on this cycle, this rotating circle, this O, and it seems fairly clear that without Others One would have no significance, no meaning, and would collapse back into nothing. One would disappear into the void of zero from which it came. Thus, it is out of respect and appreciation for One and Other that I place a large O at the beginning of these words. It is a reminder that no One is alone, all One, without also being entirely Other.

So forget about the New Age’s “We are all One,” because in actuality, well, it seems we are all O.

Hegel, G. W. F. (1979). Phenomenology of spirit. Translated by A.V. Miller. Oxford University Press.