An Open Letter on Statistical Analysis

Stat anal chart

I used to shy away from Statistical Analysis as a means to meaning.

Now different thoughts occur.

Last night my daughter was struggling with 5th-grade division problems that involved endless remainders…

I used to be really uncomfortable with the “why?” of mathematics…

…last night I found it fascinating, as if it were opening entirely new sets of mysteries and unknowns to me trailing off as it did, like endless reflection and inquiry.



Common enough thought for a philosopher.

Seems to me the “good philosopher” (effective, useful, usable, relevant) consistently ponders and inquires into the Affect and Effect of whatever is under observation or scrutiny.  What / How / Why / Where / & for Whom does it “mean” that we’re Doing / Being / Knowing this or that or what-not.  Anything, really.  Anything at all.


Which got me to thinking…

what/how/why/where/when/for-whom do all these infographics, demographics, assessments, quizzes, ticked responses, reviews, # of views, feedbacks, “likes,” “unlikes,” and so forth “mean” for our Doing/Being/Knowing?

(what’s it all mean, Big Data [pronounced “Big Dadda”?)

QUERY 2: “Huh?”

confusion diagram


The question that drives, allows, enables any help a “philosopher” might be able to foster…


(the philosopher asks)…

For the moment, just…just-now, here, this-when…





Let’s check out your personal statistics (YOU’LL have to do this part of the work – observation, comparison & contrast, open inquiry & interpretation)

statistical control chart

for instance…WHAT things do you nudge toward qualitative analysis or quantitative analysis?

A few simple questions regarding:

  • time with children/partner/self/nature/friends/world (in relation to) time at work?
  • time scrolling Facebook / browsing internet (in relation to) time gazing at / listening to / caressing / doing-being-knowing-with your loved-ones?
  • time realizing time-tested wishes or longings (in relation to) accepted responsibilities?
  • time reading/moving/resting (in relation to) time watching/viewing/receiving
  • pleasurable time (in relation to) suffering time

and so on….

[or how well do such things mesh up / converge / resolve, etc?)

(finding ways statistical analysis might mean)


and then, of course, there’s the more totalizing EXPERIENCING of such analysis / account / record / actuality [REALITY]…


…at least ONE way a statistical analysis might MEAN?

(and a humane use of philosophy?)

(science & mathematics?)

(humanities & arts?)



(maybe think of 3-5…rank them?)


(keep track of your minutes / hours for 3-5 days)


(compare.  contrast.  assemble.  interpret.  reflect.)


[RESEARCH: it all depends on context]

and it’s all immersive EXPERIENCE


(…used my lunch break for grocery-shopping to alleviate evening stress after work when I need to get the kids to multiple locations and events, and prepare dinner while hopefully interacting with them, witnessing their goings-on in the ONE place I can be at a time, while finishing up that revised CV I need for perhaps continuing employment in a position I actually feel suited to, find challenging, and organizing an upcoming theater production, parceling energy with hopes I might have some left for my prime concern: my partner, or maybe myself – isn’t that part of all of it too? – and the reading/writing/reflecting I’d love to do, acquiring plane tickets and maps for upcoming family journeys, counting breaths to relax, aiming for meta-cognition and emotional awareness so that I don’t miss, ignore, injure, need to exercise, plus the laundry and housework, and…)


all the time, is just the time you have

The Holidays

Within this 3-week, no, 2-month, no, now nearly half-year era

misnomered “the Holy Days” –

I want everything –


to come due later,

in January,

in what’s new,

to BE new

and newly different.


For now – 

to simply endure,

and that – blithely.

For there to be lights and laughter

and a certain sort of gladness.

Not this anxiety, this stress,

this hurry-up and choosing.


What is “holy” of these days

must be a kind of wanting.

Beings filled of wish

and momentary joys.

We list them:

I want …….

and I am thankful for …..


Hooray! – these days are holy!

I get to say and give and get …




We ache.


And it begins again.

“Not another word.”

“You already know the difference between the size and speed of everything that flashes through you and the tiny inadequate bit of it you can ever let anyone know…this is what it’s like. That it’s what makes room for the universes inside you, all the endless in-bent fractals of connection and symphonies of different voices, the infinities you can never show another soul. And you think it makes you a fraud, the tiny fraction anyone else ever sees? Of course you’re a fraud, of course what people see is never you.” – DFW.

I don’t know what to tell you. If this piece by DFW doesn’t resonate and “work” on you, well, ok. Perhaps he’s not for you.  Please give it a read, again, if you have…

DFW - Oblivion

click for link to “Good Old Neon” by David Foster Wallace

Narrating Fragments

“And in life, meaning is not instantaneous.  Meaning is discovered in what connects, and cannot exist without development.  Without a story, without an unfolding, there is no meaning.  Facts, information, do not in themselves constitute meaning.  Facts can be fed into a computer and become factors in a calculation.  No meaning, however, comes out of computers, for when we give meaning to an event, that meaning is a response, not only to the known, but also to the unknown: meaning and mystery are inseparable, and neither can exist without the passing of time.  Certainty may be instantaneous; doubt requires duration: meaning is born of the two.  An instant photographed can only acquire meaning insofar as the viewer can read into it a duration extending beyond itself.  When we find a photograph meaningful, we are lending it a past and a future.”

-John Berger, Another Way of Telling

Paul Kenny -

The 44th Turn

You ache.

You are older,

and beautiful,

in the way piles of gravel

surprise you

along the turnpike.


Those gathered around you

are increasingly less –

less in years, less in words,

and less in common –

saving the uncommon

tastes and thoughts and talents.


You still have books

and a dimming light

and more than enough love.

You eat, you drink, and make merry.

Some things you remember together,



almost the necessary ones,

say a child, a lover, a poem.

There are gifts, a few –

those given you yourself

and to others –

“the allowance” –



care and celebration,

some sweet welcoming,

some join.


It’s alright,

she is here, beside you,

they are sleeping in their beds,

are scattered to the days,

are bleeding, are breathing


so much talk of labor

in our culture –

piles of effort

for finding peaceful paths,

to the country,

the cabin,

toward some freedom

to live.


We live.

Our days adding up

while counting down,

in strange measures –

now in years,

by the hours,

in moments.

Ramblings…10,000 Words

First of all, let me apologize for not being very consistent or active here the past week or two.  And then apologize for the following length (somehow I felt it was okay, given the silence caused by entanglements of necessity and sustenance)…

            If I were a mountain.  This was my first thought, while reflecting on you, me, our children, planets and plants, birth, death, brains and bodies and societies of persons, nations, sciences and myths, plus at least 10,000 other things.  The effort to consider everything – a total picture – my limited whole with as many details as possible.  As if meanings were stars and knowledge all the darkness around them.

Taking time.  If I conjure everything I know – time-saving habits and fixes, sundry scientific theories, the feel of my children’s hair, the path of a bee, each lip that’s found its way against mine, every person, voice, place I remember in part, pancake recipes, varieties of soil I’ve walked over, tasted, smelled, languages living and dead…don’t worry, I won’t list 10,000 things and their changing nuances…

What is common for me, when not immediately struggling to make ends meet up, are these attempts at collocating and corroborating my experiences and knowledge to date…and it inevitably leads to profound sensations of brevity and minisculity (?).

If what I have experienced, lived-through and wended into my body and brain represented stars (those sometimes recognizable flickering points of light)…

…all I have not heard of, thought, experienced, lived-through or felt

would be represented by the gargantuan dark – the endless, perhaps infinite, space.

            My 43 years.  Books I have read, courses taken, jobs held, skills learned, places inhabited and endured.  Women I’ve loved, children I’ve borne and partially raised, persons I’ve met, objects and activities engaged and observed, skies, senses, stuff.

Pretend you are space.

A space that is full, perhaps something akin to our idea of atom.  Imagine your space, of space, in space.  In other words – your little flexible dynamic space is both made of space, contained in space, occupying and participating in space and spaces and shares its participatory space(s) with 10,000…10,000,000,000,000…uncountable space-forms and forms of space…

I, atom.  Barely a point in space-time, hardly formally recognizable, and from what angle or distance?  Limited space-form through limited space-times.  A flexible, dynamic, ever-morphing relatively microscopic or enormous form-ish space-ish thingy.

An atom bounding, ricocheting, trembling and changing throughout a little universe…a variable assemblage of atom-like moments transforming in particular ways of a sort addicted to accounting for and measuring itself and its surroundings (a way of distinguishing presence in these manners of matters).

Forms and Objects 

            If I were a mountain (that is, in relation to “you”) I’d likely be quieter, perhaps slower, present and patient – you might reference or measure yourself by me (I was thinking).  I might want less.  Not have the same desires and activities formally compressed into 70-80 “years…”

And then if you were a sky full of stars or dawn, an enormous canvas of clouds and colors, ubiquitous…and there was that mountain…

So very small, so very brief:  Me.

            Couple all of that to the profound affects felt (in and on me) by other malleable collectives of atoms we refer to as “us” – plus mountains, valleys, rivers and seas, weather, events, animals, places and things: at our scale, and between ever-so-many scales, we have significant import and effect, albeit almost nothing at all viewed fractionally and/or noticeably at minimally larger scales (I suppose that could be argued…)

Anyway, we exist for ourselves primarily at our own shared scale, imagining (or inventing) other scales in order that we might examine ourselves, potentially compare or evaluate…us.

But if I were a mountain…how different would our relation be?  I imagine it this way:  You in your human scale, and me as mountain.  In rain, ages, erosion and accretion, growing trees and dropping boulders…and you, briefly, tramping across me, perhaps admiring or photographing me, resting on me, using me as a direction or a landmark – always there, there, there.  Other things, people, events, experiences of your immediate scale rise and fall, come and go, attach and detach, begin and end, flux and alter…

            You as sky to me, and I – mountain.

            This thinking – that it might help me somehow to imagine life at other scales… Perhaps this is why…







…what might we mean at another scale?  between scales?  Not simply as we are to ourselves, as we experience or live-through our brief experiences as space-forms in space-times, but from alternate frames and scalar perspectives?

Imagine…from the view of our constituent elements and systems…over large ranges of processes (“history,” “time”) or briefer ones (Mayfly, ant, daisy)…from tectonic or astronomical lenses…where we can’t even register as an entity, object or form…and by the time whatever activity we mustered – energy or noise we emitted in our being reached a distant planet or star we’d have been gone for thousands and thousands of our decades?!

As if, even at our scale, we are molecules shaking in a beaker.  Vibrating, jostling one another, coming together, splitting apart, sometimes bonding, sometimes break – but most often simply bouncing to and fro.  Jiggling.  Adapting and adjusting.

Mountain.  Sky.  Metaphors of import.

10,000 words on 10,000,000,000,000…things (or just the one)

“Ain’t it like most people?  I’m no different.

We love to talk on things we don’t know about.”

-Avett Brothers-