1 + 1 + 1 = 1

Hello, readers.

It is Wednesday and there is this:

This reminded me that mashups exist. Also that I have always been in love with things that existed in combinations both thrilling and perfectly strange.

Here are some of my favorite mashups:

Radio Soulwax Presents: As Heard on Radio Soulwax pt. 2 (link)
A Stroke of Genie-Us (link)
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

Here’s a New Yorker article from 2005 about mashups called “1 + 1 + 1 = 1.” (link)

Here is a quote from that article:

“Mashups find new uses for current digital technology, a new iteration of the cause-and-effect relationship behind almost every change in pop-music aesthetics: the gear changes, and then the music does.”

Once upon a time I wrote a paper about The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, describing it as a sort of mashup of genres.

Today I am wondering if my fascination with mashup culture might be placed under the heading of AN INCREASING UNDERSTANDING OF MY EXPERIENCE OF LIFE AS NON-BINARY. Which is a funny thing to think, I think, considering that most mashups derive their power from the splicing together of two things which remain, in their union, recognizably distinct. Someone should probably invent a symbol that captures our binary experience of a universe that is at heart entirely non-binary. Oh, wait.

This is a thing I’ve been thinking about, of late, readers. I was already who I am before we arrived here. I was already Luke Skywalker and Marie Antoinette and an alien with two hearts and a boy in love with Penny Lane and a girl in love with longing to be part of the world. I didn’t think of this as strange. I thought of it as true.

As G’Kar says of his time on the space station Babylon 5:

“Let me pass onto you the one thing I’ve learned about this place. No one here is exactly what he appears…My warning is sincere. Ignore it at your own peril.”

In my life I tend to be seen as a man. Very often, though, I am seen as a woman and then upon closer inspection (or hearing my voice) said observer will apologize for their mistake.

However I see myself, and however difficult and somewhat vertiginous to accept, some part of that self that I am is a collection of all those moments of being seen by others.

And, so, in that part of my heart that is made of how I am seen I suppose you could say that there are two images:

Man and Mistake.

I do not doubt this experience of being seen as—




—has something to do with my fascination with stories like Beauty and the Beast.

Also my desire to DESTROY ALL BINARIES.

Also, also. With my tendency as a child, not seeing anyone really on screen that both LOOKED and FELT LIKE ME, to develop a habit of seeing myself in everyone and seeing everyone in myself. The world is much less lonely if you open yourself to imagining everything is, in part, a representation of you and you are, in part, a representation of everything.

But. Yes. Where were we? Oh, right. My heart.

In that part of my heart that imagines itself in terms of its own design, fashioned through an arrangement of symbols absorbed in books and films and THE REAL WORLD and also the natural world and also human conversation—i.e., crafting a sort of mental self-projection not exactly unlike how Neo projects an image in The Matrix—I look much more like what American society might describe as A GIRL. Possibly because those things I valued and felt to be ME included a great deal of things considered as GIRL THINGS. You know. Sensuality. Emotions. Intuitiveness. A deep capacity for surrender. A deep love and need for connection. An interest in jewelry and fashion. Etc.

And. Wait for it.

Here’s the thing.

I grew up not entirely trusting the conceptions of BOY and GIRL as generally encountered in the world of 1981 – I’LL LET YOU KNOW WHEN WE GET THERE.

I particularly did not trust the conception of GIRL in my society.

I particularly, particularly did not trust the conception of GIRL by MEN in my society. (p.s. Girl by Men sounds, I think, like an excellently weird name for patriarchal perfume)

And, well. By most accounts at the time. I was an American on his way to becoming a MAN, and therefore how could I trust any part of myself that imagined itself in anyway to be a GIRL!

Which most likely means that if one imagined my once and future heart as a triptych sort of summation one might imagine titling the panels as such:


Two out of three of these things, you’ll notice, indicate a misunderstanding. And by you, in this case, I of course me.

I don’t really think of myself these days as a boy or a girl or a man or a woman. I am, as the New Yorker title suggests, a summation of more than two things which all add up to one thing. This is, more or less, the definition of non-binary.

It is a bit strange to think of myself in this way. It is also entirely natural. I like math. No one here is exactly what they appear.

Any time we bother conceiving of ourselves as more than we imagined, or deeper than we imagined, or in any way differently than we imagined, there is a chance we will wake up like Neo in The Matrix.

We will be more vulnerable than we can remember being.

We will freak out a bit.

We will need teachers.

If we are lucky to find those teachers, we can hopefully look forward to a period of rapid learning on such topics as kung fu, firearm handling, and the timey-wimey nature of reality.

This is where the world finds itself, I think, these days. The gears are changed. The music is new. We are all trying to make sense of how we got here and where it is we’re going. Apocalypse is, after all, just another word for revelation.

In other news.

The other day I sat with a stranger by the sea. We talked. We read poetry. We watched the sunset. We were by the time we parted transformed perhaps into humans slightly less strange.

I hope that, for all of you, there is a moment this week, or this month, or sometime soon where you can sit with someone and feel less strange.

Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be a person. It could be a film or a poem or a mashup. You never know.

And, of course, in this case you means you know who you are.

Happy Wednesday, readers.