Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Perverse Optimism

"The formula 2 + 2 = 5 instantly riveted my attention. It seemed to me at once bold and preposterous--the daring and the paradox and the tragic absurdity of the Soviet scene, its mystical simplicity, its defiance of logic, all reduced to nose-thumbing arithmetic. . . . 2 + 2 = 5: in electric lights on Moscow housefronts, in foot-high letters on billboards, spelled planned error, hyperbole, perverse optimism; something childishly headstrong and stirringly imaginative. . . "
Eugen Lyons, Assignment in Utopia, 1937
quoted here


2+2=5 - 1931
"The arithmetic of an industrial-financial counter-plan plus the enthusiasm of workers." Soviet poster promoting the first five-year plan

Alexander Vesnin - 5 x 5 = 25 - 1921

Charles Demuth - The figure 5 in gold - 1928



"How could we divide the unit, if it were here that ultimate unity which characterizes a simple act of the mind ? How could we split it up into fractions whilst affirming its unity, if we did not regard it implicitly as an extended object, one in intuition but multiple in space ?"
Henri BergsonTime and Free Will: An essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness, 1889

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