Binary vs. spectrum simplicity

05 / 07 / 20

I like simple things. Sometimes it feels like I only like simple things. I know that isn't true, but more often than not, the main reason I dislike something is because it is too complex.

What I'm not so sure about is whether simplicity requires a binary. Spectra simultaneously seem like the least simple and the most simple of metrics.

On one hand, a spectrum is obviously complex. Rather than boolean pair of options, you have a great many intermediate options between them. Like the different shades of a gradient.

But on the other hand, a spectrum is absolutely simple. When a set passes from very many parts to infinite parts, as a spectrum can be said to do, it abandons rational and quantifiable meter. There are not one, two, three, ten, twenty, thirty, etc. parts; there are, simply, infinite parts. You don't attempt to count or organize infinite parts, because you cannot. Infinity is, effectively, indivisible. And indivisibility is, in a way, the root quality of simplicity.

When I was younger, I looked for clear divisions and formed many of my opinions in black and white terms. This frustrated a lot of people, but it worked for me, largely because it felt simple. And it still does—I still often catch myself thinking this way. But more often lately I catch myself seduced by the irresponsibility and freedom of accepting gray areas. Accepting that there is an immeasurable, unknowable void between black and white. And that makes things simple for me, but I'm starting to wonder if it might piss people off even more.

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