On SYMMETRY


SYMMETRY (n.) “relation of parts, proportion,” from Middle French symmétrie and directly from Latin symmetria, from Greek symmetria “agreement in dimensions, due proportion, arrangement,” from symmetros “having a common measure, even, proportionate,” meaning “harmonic arrangement of parts” —first recorded 1590’s

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Does pure symmetry exist?

According to science it does. There’s symmetry in mathematics, forming the basis for geometry and architecture. There’s biological symmetry, explaining everything from starfish and sea anemones to the zebra’s stripes. Snail shells and Romanesco broccoli. The Fibonacci sequence and golden ratios and all that shit, yeah I’ve seen the movie Pi.

Symmetry even invades our language, with palindromes like the word “NOON” [which is symmetrical both vertically and horizontally!] Even our beauty standards are subconsciously based on symmetry, with studies showing that the more symmetrical a face the more beautiful it is perceived to be…

What is this obsession with SYMMETRY?

Maybe it says more about our human obsession with order and our reliance on a scientific rationality than it does about a perfectly proportioned aesthetic. Harmony and balance are cool and all, but I’ve always been more moved by asymmetry. Life is, after all, beautifully and tragically imperfect.

I say let’s learn to dwell in the  ASYMMETRICAL

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But still,

symmetry happens when an Other is reflected back perfectly to us. And the yearning for that ideal reflection stays ever-pervasive. Maybe pure symmetry doesn’t exist. Maybe we just project the idea of symmetry in everything around us. We all just want something that reveals us to ourselves. We all just want

A MIRROR.

Like Lacan said, “all sorts of things in this world behave as mirrors”

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So the question becomes, not why are we preoccupied with notions of symmetry, but:

can we find the COURAGE to look in that mirror?

in whatever form it finds us?


all photos taken at Crater Lake National Park Summer 2011 by Niko

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