Thursday, October 22, 2009

Zero Sum

A zero sum game cannot happen in infinite surroundings. This I think is one primary difference between God's world and the world He permits. The failure of love is often zero sum on the planet, because partners don't agree that love should be over. Love turns out to be a finite resource. Someone is left holding the bag while conceivably the other gains. Love does not appear infinite here. A huge portion of popular music wouldn't work if the failures of love were not a zero sum game.

Zero sum thinking has led in the social sciences to social trap thinking. A social trap is where everybody wins for a while and then everybody loses because the activity self destructs, like using up all the available oil may turn out to have been a social trap if there is no way out of the crash as it runs out. That's another form of zero sum. The solution to zero sum is to go somewhere else, if you can. Or else simply suffer through it and come out the other end better or worse depending on alternatives and flexibilities and attitudes.

Zero Sum

Could it be my fate
to curl inward whenever
the wind blows like this?
I have holes where you
should be, where the world whistles
through me, where I feel
the edges freeze if
I do not tightly hold round
shape and roll away.

February 18, 2009 9:58 PM


  1. Morose thoughts, and sometimes it seems like life itself can be a zero sum game. But you don't see it until you reach the finish, so maybe it's better to accrue all the positive bits while you're in it? Whether it's love, or the world, or whatever...

  2. If the finite realm that we know is supported from an infinite realm we cannot know in ordinary ways, then zero sum is a shallow appearance of something different and deeper. That is the perennial spiritual claim. This claim transforms the negative and also the positive into another category of experience.

    This is one reason why the spiritual dimensions of human experience are critical and our acceptance or rejection of them builds very different views of the cosmos.

  3. Detachment saves my soul, and has saved my life. It has also wasted a lot of my time.

    This is where you took me:

    I curl inward
    I can't touch my toes
    no one can touch me

    I observe,
    learning becomes

    I live there
    in the holes,
    full of you



  4. Oh, Michelle, yes. And yes.

    There is no way to avoid the cost of things. There are occasionally the choices we can decide between, which cost shall I choose this time. To maximize this freedom to choose reveals character and so what it means to be human. Nowhere more than in how we love do we see this.

    I am very pleased you are dancing with me here.

  5. In my experience, a social trap is something I have to learn from so I do not lose again and again.

  6. I loved this poem Christopher and the visions it brought to mind. It was very optical for me. All the curling and roundness....

  7. fabulous!
    both the discussion and the poem...

    loved that image of love piercing our being and changing us into a kind of musical instrument... whistling with the winds of life...

    wow! kind of Rumi style...

    the images you create are always great... touch deep...

    and i think no matter what happens to the relationship, we are always the winner... as we are not the same person we were before... we are changed... more experienced... more human... (though more suffering)... so when the lovers are separated, the sum cannot be zero...

    one plus one minus one is...

    "A zero sum game cannot happen in infinite surroundings."

    how beautifully you've summed it up!

    peace and love to you dear friend

  8. TB, keep learning, one day at a time...

    W&W, thank you for your eyes.

    human being, I am happy to know you are out and about. Thank you for your link and your enthusiasm. I hope your gate can stay open, your doors and windows too.

  9. Dancing with you is one of the highlights of my day,lovely man.


  10. To curl inward is yin. Yes, it may be your nature.

  11. Well, Rachel, some of the time it has to be. No one is exempt. We are all yin, yang. Things tend to be inclusive rather than exclusive. As per the next post, we like to discriminate, to exclude rather than include. It's neater, less confusing. It is also less real. You have to have exclusions. You also have to have inclusion. Inhale, exhale. You can't make babies without the thrust but without receiving there is no womb. You can't make poems without thrust, but without soul there is no poetry. I love you, girl, glad you have yang in you.

  12. Love right back at you, dear Christopher. :) Yes, we must have both; balance, but not in an equal, stable, static sort of way. There's more of a swaying between the two, like trees rocking in the wind.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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