Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Numbers

I have left this chance shot of marble door numbers (taken at Powerscourt Gardens) exactly as it was. The light just fell on it this way. The numbers are always mysterious and the numbers of things are of the utmost importance. In this economic period, there is constant talk about numbers. Symbolically, multiples of numbers are of the same significance as the number itself. So when we speak of millions and billions these are multiples of a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand. Billions are merely multiples but they put extra stress on the significance of the giant losses of the banks, which dominates the news and indeed our lives. We didn't expect the banks to lose anything at all - so it's one big loss. In the photograph, two numbers are interesting. Thirteen jumps out at us because it's nearly obscured by light and seventeen (and twelve) calls attention to itself through its absence. Symbolically, thirteen is an ambivalent number. Although it's generally regarded as unlucky, it also has significant power. Christ and his apostles are thirteen in number. Zeus and the twelve Olympians are thirteen in total. But broadly, thirteen is aberrant. It's away from the normal order. Conversely, seventeen is of enormous significance in many cultures and is a positive symbol. Except in ancient Rome where the number is unlucky. In Roman numbering, seventeen is XVII giving an anagram VIXI - "I have lived".