Why OIOIO? To understand and represent ‘everything’ as binary, 0 and 1 (the numbers), here transformed into O and I (the letters). We know it as Yin-Yang in Taoism, as Dvaita in Indian philopophy and as Dualism in the European tradition. What you are looking at, this website, the images, the texts, they are all built with only 0-s and 1-s. In India, the opposite of dvaita is advaita, in other words, the opposition between dualism and monism.

Ardhanari Ishvara, Elephanta caves near Mumbai

Well, there you have it, it’s a dualism in itself. So what about a ternary system? Or quaternary? They are all built from binary blocks: 3 = 11, 4 = 100, we count like this: 0, 1, 10, 11, 100, 101, 110, 111 etc. In other words, forget about ternary or more, binary can do it all. As I am neither a mathematician nor a philosopher or a theologist I shall refrain from further speculations on this issue. However, dvaita is crucial to my worldview. And as an anthropologist I am sympathetic towards Claude Lévi-Strauss’ theory of the binary nature of human society. The beautiful Indian representation of the tension and resolution of the human experience of dimorphism, and of the interplay between dvaita and advaita is known as Ardhanari Ishvara, the half (fe-)male god.

In contemporary cultural analysis binary oppositions are often criticised, especially for becoming instruments of hierarchy: Man/Woman, White/Black, High/Low, Good/Bad, Great/Common, etc. If we go to the early pre-Vedic Indian roots of dvaita we see the O represented as the yoni (vulva), the I as the lingam (phallus). Here also it is treacherously dangerous to see the ‘one’ as ‘more’ than the ‘zero’, and in yoni-lingam images the ‘one’ is standing ‘above’ the ‘zero’. This view is completely false. If the lingam would have nothing to stand on it would vanish into undifferentiatedness. And one has no value if there is no zero.

But let me emphasize that I am not promoting dualism over multiplicity. But multiplicity can be generated from duality, not from oneness. Dualism is not better than monism, it has greater explanatory efficiency.

Some will argue that between black and white there are many shades of grey or that gender not only consists of MF but also LGBTQ, and no-one is 100% M or F. The primary answer to this is that every painter knows that we can create any shade of grey by mixing black and white in the right proportion. The secondary answer is more complicated as it involves the idea of analog computing rather than digital. And buy the way, leaving black, white and grey aside, aren’t colours composed of three (RGB) or four (CMYK) components? This is a fallacy, we use those composite systems to describe and recreate colours. Colours by themselves are frequencies, expressed in a single number that can be expressed as 0-s and 1-s. Analog representation of that number can be computationally more efficient, but it doesn’t change the principle. The visible spectrum of light is a range between a lower and upper frequency limit, and any colour will be a point in that range, a position on the slider.

But on the other hand, perhaps thou art that, or, as Pooh said, it’s the same… (on breakfast and exploring).

Seriously? Not really, just a justification for the name of this site…