08 May, 2021


Illustration by Sorit

One of the several reasons you could read ‘One of the several reasons you could read’ just now is because the Brodmann 17 area in the pinkish-beige tofu-textured mass you lug around inside your head is working. Brodmann 17 is the primary visual cortex1, key to your pattern recognition ability2.

Of course, in the absence of patterns, one has randomness3. For instance, if you didn’t know the meaning of the word ‘randomness’, it would appear to you as nine letters strung together arbitrarily, conveying no sense deeper than the stringing together itself. Unfortunately, you wouldn’t also know how to count. It’s 10 letters, not nine4. Now randomness is the big spanner in the works for people looking for the Big Answers5, like ‘Why me’6? Or ‘Why did the chicken cross the road again’7? Randomness answers every such query with a ‘That’s the way it is’.

So, is it just a random occurrence that 17 is ‘the least...

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