nautilus shell

Recursion, as a concept, is hard to define because to adequately articulate its intelligible identity, you have to break the golden rule of dictionaries: never use the word in its own definition.

Mathematically, physically, logically this is the very nature of a recursive process, function, organic sequence.

Anyway, this urge to define the indefinable resulted in this post. Let’s begin at the source of all linguistic definition…

recursive |riˈkərsiv|


  • Relating to or involving a program or routine of which a part requires the application of the whole, so that its explicit interpretation requires in general many successive executions.

It’s especially used in computer programming to define an infinite set of objects in one finite statement. Stated more concisely, a recursive definition is defined in terms of itself. If you break down a complex problem into smaller parts, you can solve the simpler parts and then combine their results.

…a recursive definition is defined in terms of itself.”

You know the function, as a whole, itself. So any instances of it in smaller parts of the same problem cancel out and you’re left with the remainder that shows itself plain as day. In other words, you can isolate the inconsistencies. The variable randomness or designed change.

Occurrences of this phenomenon in nature include the nautilus shell you may find lying in the sand on a beach. The shell builds upon itself in an outward spiraling growth that never closes the circle and only ends when the cells are no longer capable of regenerating.

I’m pretty sure it’s how you psychologically incept someone too. Although, existentially, it’s just a way to rise above the self and see the world from a vantage point separated from the self. Like a less dramatic out-of-body experience.

Let’s put the concept to action…

Imagine only being able to go back or forth your entire life. And then suddenly, you’re aware of these two directions. And in becoming aware of this limited duality, you imagine that maybe there’s another direction—a third path. So you apply the same skill you learned going forward or back, yet you shift your thinking into the possibility of this newly perceived, newly imagined reality.

Now tread sideways.


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