My weblog ELECTRON BLUE, which concentrated on science and mathematics, ran from 2004-2008. It is no longer being updated. My current blog, which is more art-related, is here.

Wed, 11 Apr, 2007


I found this new word while reading an article about the effects of amphetamine drugs on people. If you use these drugs, or have certain neurological disorders, you may engage in punding, which is defined in Wikipedia as "activity characterized by compulsive fascination with and performance of repetitive, mechanical tasks, such as assembling and disassembling, collecting, or sorting household objects." (Please excuse the Ôs as well as the delay in entries, as I am still having technical difficulties with the new computer and the blogging software.) I realized that I also do punding (or is that "I pund?") I'm not on amphetamines (thank Ghod) nor do I have any neurological disorder (yet) but I still have the behavior. For instance, I love cleaning the plastic sign clips from work, which get grubby with residues of various sorts. I wash them in dish detergent in the sink, rinse them, then shake the water off and set them out to dry on a towel on the floor. I can do dozens at a time, laid out in crystalline clear plastic ranks on my floor like some sort of shell game. I like sorting paints or papers or markers or colored pencils in my studio, even if other places in my home are all cluttered.

According to the Wiki article, " People engaging in punding find immersion in such activities comforting, even when it serves no purpose…" I also find it comforting, although I don't do it as long as the addicts or sufferers do. I love order and want to make more of it. In a world where most things are not under my control, I take satisfaction in knowing that I can at least clean some plastic or put a collection of cards in a neat arrangement. Maybe no one knows I do it, but at least I have made a little bit more order in my world, even if it is meaningless order.

I'm currently doing derivative problems. (No, I have not forgotten calculus at all!) Once I learned the rules of how to get these derivatives, finding the derivative of f(x), at least in these simple problems, is a mechanical and repetitive process, varied only by negative or positive exponents, or ratios and extra sub-functions. I enjoy math problems for the same reason I enjoy punding. I know that my solving those math problems serves no purpose in the long run (that is, I will not go on to be a productive scientist) but it is a way for me to assert my power to create order in my little sub-division of a world in which disorder is always, and necessarily, increasing.

Posted at 5:39 pm | link

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