are geometric patterns which repeat themselves at every scale. Usually
they are self-similar at every scale, but not necessarily. Benoit
Mandelbrot originated fractals in mathematics in 1975, the term
originating from the Latin word "fractus" meaning, "to
break". In recent times, computer graphics have used fractals
to describe realistic objects whose geometries are fractal, such
as clouds, mountains, turbulence, and coastlines. Recently, I've
been thinking of fractals in terms of human behavior and human identity.
my recent and ongoing quarter-life crisis, I constantly grapple
with the idea of consistency and identity. "Foolish consistency
is the hobgoblin of little minds," said Ralph Waldo Emerson.
I've always prided myself on the fact that I am not overly consistent.
I am a person of revolving ideas. I constantly experience change
in my own aesthetics. But this is unsettling to me, and a major
source of anxiety. Perhaps it originates from societal pressures,
but I am compelled to want to describe my essential self. What is
my essence, in a few words? Am I disciplined, motivated, good-hearted?
I am all these things, but not at every level of my life. On the
grand scale of my life, I am very disciplined and very optimistic.
Long term goals, I hardly ever question, and even if questioned,
I still give them the benefit of the doubt and persevere. For example,
I am disciplined enough to never give up my PhD program. I am disciplined
enough to not go and run off to a new job. I am optimistic that
in the long term, my life will succeed and work out. I only need
the occasional, small motivation from daily life to reinforce these
goals. These goals are internally reinforcing.
what of discipline? On the day to day level, I am a procrastinator,
I favor comfort over hard choices, I always do what's easy and what
feels right. I never plan ahead and prefer to keep options right
up to the last minute. I am not disciplined at all. Or am I? I think
it's fair to say that my behavior, and I suspect the behavior of
many people, to be fractal in nature. It is in my nature to be disciplined
about the big picture, but not in the little picture. Clever friends
often try to deconstruct my policy of discipline but illuminating
my inconsistencies, but I am rarely phased. Kierkegaard has also
challenged me. In "sickness unto death", he describes
that a person cannot have an essential sense of self without accountability
to God. The Christian notion of God and judgement is that our character
is judged holistically. To me, this feels like we are unnecessarily
distilled down to an essence, and a consistent one at that. Christian
ideals rarely allow people to see grey. If I behaved contradictorily,
then I must have been possessed by the devil on one occasion or
the other. Christian belief doesn't allow for contradiction because
it is belief that we are by design. Contradictions are inferior
designs. Our maybe our notion of design hasn't seen the light of
at a loss to describe how I am able to maintain seemingly contradictory
values. But then again, why should I have to explain? I am just
another fractal system. My fractal beliefs and fractal character
render me as a more realistic and rich personality.
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