Often when we hear the word binary it’s associated with the gender binary. But are there other binaries that you are exploring with your work?
ALL OF THEM.
Ok, well I think the numerical binary (0/1; on/off) coding and computer programming are at the foundation of perhaps all our modern computer tools and devices. Many of them were developed for use by and for the military, in fields of medicine, communication, and behavior prediction and control. Sorting and categorizing, identification and surveillance technologies have brought great economic wealth and power to governments and individuals who control, develop, and distribute them onto others. These technologies are powerful and efficient at what they do because they have been standardized and ubiquitous – meaning introduced to the whole of society as “normal” – but to work they often reduce and force very complex things into one of two options and discard what can’t or won’t fit. That’s where language comes in.
When I was a pre-teen surfing the dial-up internet, I came across an anonymous document called the Laws of Life. It’s also known as the Laws of Magick or Laws of Reason, but here are two of the laws that stuck with me ever since: (8) Law of Infinite Universes: change your perspective in one area and you change your universe. There are always three choices available; and (12) Law of Polarity: everything contains and implies its opposite.
So keeping those in mind, I think many of us are raised to use binary phrases in language. For example:
this or that
if X, then Y
on one hand/on the other hand
on one side/on the flip side
with us/against us
Many, many people will try to make you act or choose something using this kind of language, and many times it will be to disempower you for their benefit. In arguments, someone may try to get you to admit that you “always” do one thing and “never” do another, but what if the reality is “sometimes” you do both or all, or you are both or all, depending? What does your opponent have to gain by forcing you to make one of two choices, when there’s so many more available?
I don’t believe in just two aspects of anything, and I question anytime someone uses binary language to describe a problem or solution or issue. There’s always more than two sides to any story, you know? The moon has cycles. The earth rotates. We are not flat or two-dimensional in body or spirit, and so binary language does not serve us well.
Read the full interview here.