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Mathematical Signature Shapes, 1: On Syllogism, Triangles, Helixes, and Non-Linear Time (OR: The Logic of Tangents)

Tangent (in math): a line that touches a circle or ellipse at just one point

What is a 'point' in calculus? As in 'a line is tangent to the ...


Prelude: Tangent A

I’d asked Pete about the other projects conducted on him, past and present. His tone grew particularly emphatic when describing a documentary short two directors made about him; after the filming wrapped, he wondered if the project was really coming to fruition.

Yeah, yeah, these two girls, beautiful women, really, both of them… beautiful. They came in here, there’s some kind of a movie project, a documentary or somethin’? Who knows. The movie was supposed to happen, but I haven’t heard from them much, haven’t seen them around, so who knows. Maybe it’s done, it’s over, it’s not happening… who knows. Who knows…

Two months later, we met up at the IFP Theater in the West Village to go to world premiereof The Magnitudinous Illuminous[2] as part of the DOC NYC film festival; afterward, the directors threw him and everyone involved a party at a nearby bar.

At a subsequent screening, this time with the Rooftop Film Festival at Green-Wood Cemetery in May of 2019, I caught up with one of the directors.

“Wow,” I gushed. “This is amazing. The film has been shown all around New York, and you just did such a good job at capturing Pete.” After a pause to gather my thoughts and galvanize them into what I really wanted to articulate, I add: “Plus, this whole thing is, like, the definition of ‘I Got You Got,’ hah.[3] Like, here are all these people here celebrating Pete by watching this gorgeous movie that you made. Working with Pete really is magical, isn’t it? How does it feel to have… well, to have made it in New York?”

She laughs, straightens up her shoulders and tosses her head back. I instinctually realize I’m about to get some real-talk.

“Ha… haha. To have made it in New York.’” She enunciated the words with wry, scoffing staccato, and notes of bitterness. “The truth is, I’m fucking over New York. I’ve been here, what, ten years? The whole ‘Ohhh! Making it in New York City!!-thing is just kinda dead to me at this point. And honestly, now that this project is done I’ll finally leave… maybe I’ll move on to somewhere else.” She swirls her drink— “Ketel One-ness” or something along those lines, a Pete original concocted just for the occasion – somewhere between jadedness and contemplatively.

Naturally, I was rendered speechless. Here I was, in the company of someone who was in the midst of accomplishing what I had come to New York to do: to not only produce creative works for myself, but with some kind of greater import. And to have them enjoyed on a large scale.

In light of the the utter shock at her response (which will likely make increasing sense as my tenure in New York lengthens, accompanied by the 20/20 vision of retrospect), she quickly added, with a sympathetic smile: “Look, look, I get it. And thank you. Really. You just moved here, right? Then you’re doing exactly what you should be doing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really happy to have been here in New York, and definitely to have done this project. It’s my most important work to date; we all meet Pete for a reason. And… as for working with Pete…”

We lock eyes and grin.

“You know, he can be… a challenging subject.”


“I know just what you mean,” I say. “Sometimes, you know, it’s like everything he says is a tangent! I’m learning there has to be a time where the input stops so that I can process the content he’s already given me.”

More laughter.

“But, you know, the thing is that all of these tangents are connected—and not only in terms of their content, like the theories or ideas they’re communicating. It’s also clear, on some level, that this very method of communicating is illustrative of the points he’s trying to get across in the first place. Untangling this, and elucidating both his theories AND his methods, is the nature of my project with Pete.”

Her eyes sparkle. “It’s good that you’re doing this. ‘Cuz when we were doing the film and he’d start bringing out the paper towels with shapes drawn on them and going on about the theories and the shapes and the “isms,” it was sort of beyond what we were there to do, or what we could do. Really,” she emphasizes, looking me in the eyes: “it’s really great that you’re doing this.”

I’m not really doing anything, though—I’m just a humble transcriber…

… and, perhaps, a translator.  

We promise to keep in touch – which we haven’t, but will undoubtedly soon will– and I set off to say congratulations to Pete and go home. After all, I was exhausted from having worked at the Mafia Restaurant that whole evening.

A = B, B= C, ∴ A = C

Among Pete’s primary aims as a philosopher, mathematician, and scientist is to communicate theories about what is, arguably, the most abstract question a soul could ponder — what is life? He also AIMS to do so as simply and clearly as possible. To this end, and as discussed in the articles of this book project[4], Pete creates pithy “isms” to articulate various theoretical threads in the fabric of the cosmos. Here are the two related to the primary topic of this article:

Mathematical Signature Shapes: perhaps this one is self-explanatory, but for the sake of scholarly thoroughness, this “ism” is a catch-all term for elemental shapes in mathematics (circles, squares, triangles, and so forth) that underpin all physical and metaphysical realities.

Silly Gs (short for Syllogismaticism[5]): elemental mathematical equations representing the dynamic, interactive, natural flow of all existence. By the way, if this sounds reminiscent of Pete’s theory of Evolved Collective Fludity #ECF, then you, friend, are one astute reader.

Pete has devised many Silly-G’s, but for the purposes of staying on-topic, we will focus on perhaps the most fundamental of all, and one which underpins the mathematical signature shapes discussed in this article:

A = B, B= C, ∴ A = C.

In other words, if A = B and B = C, then it follows that A must equal C.

This “Silly G” is a mathematical expression of Evolved Collective Fludity #ECF, insofar that there is a natural order to life that cannot be denied. Everything that happens is the inevitable result of an endless chain of events. More than describing microcosmic phenomena, which are nuanced and particular, A = B, B= C, ∴ A = C more broadly postulates that the aforementioned dynamic, interactive flow of all existence might very well take place in sets of threes.

A = B, B= C, ∴ A = C also relates to the 1+ 1 = 3 theory, wherein a sum is postulated as not merely being greater than two equal parts, but is, instead, infinite: comprising part of the inevitable sequence of equations that follow.

In sum (pun intended), A = B, B= C, ∴ A = C reminds us that everything is connected: there are no true beginnings or ends to anything, or anyone. We are all one.

Bermuda Triangles: Tangent B

“Hey X, long time no chat. I hope you’re safe and well. Pete called me and asked about you. He wants you to call him.”[6]

It’d been a while since I’d heard from R, which was a necessary lapse given the dynamic that had accidently developed between us when we’d first met. Ah, the challenges of being a young woman navigating the hyper-kinetic testosterone maze of South Brooklyn! ..or really anywhere, for that matter.[7] Here’s what happened.

After meeting Pete’s inner circle at the premiere of The Magnitudinous Illuminous, I was privy to Pete’s inner circle: those who recognize his unconventional genius, who understand his importance, and feel both a sense of duty and urgency to have this man put on the map—any map – as soon as possible. By no means does this imply that Pete is some kind of a charity case; rather, those of us lucky to be in this inner circle mutually (and tacitly) acknowledge that the “Eccentric Bartender” has more than paid his dues working at the bowling alley for thirty-someodd years. He belongs in the spotlight, for his ideas as much as his light.

Pete radiates. And as I’ve often told him, and will tell him again here, he deserves to be paid simply for existing. He, at 67 years of age and a wicked case of sciatica that he cheerfully writes off to his concerned inner circle, should not have to work behind the bar anymore. He is a legend, and it is time to retire his manually laborious duties. Pete is, simply, a gift, and if more people can know him – see him – then more people will be happy.

Really, it’s as simple as A = B, B= C, ∴ A = C.

R was, and is, an ally of us both, whom Pete had originally recruited to undertake the project that ended up landing in my lap – thanks to the forces of #ECF, of course. But over a round of Cutty Sark – served in clear plastic cups, one up and one rocks, in the Office seats – R confided that he wasn’t cut out for the job.

“You know,” he said in a low voice, “it’s hard sometimes, because when he gets going I can’t really keep up. I can for a while, you know, and make connections with history or literature or other works I’ve studied, but it reaches a point where I can’t follow. And it’s hard to have a dialogue when he’s really worked up—and besides, even if you do get a question in edge-wise, he’ll go on another tangent and then all bets are really off.”


“So it’s really great that you’re doing this. We’ve been waiting for someone like you to come along,” R says.

I quickly interject. “I’m honored everyone here seems to believe in me so much. I mean, it all happened naturally; me being an intermediary here wasn’t planned, and I think that’s a large part of why this feels right. And honestly, I really do understand where he’s coming from… he’s rough around the edges, but he has access to ideas that people spend their whole lifetimes trying to even approach.”

I swirl my drink, and poke at the ice cubes with a red plastic straw.

“I dunno, you’re right though. Keeping up with him can be challenging, but it can connect to so much.” R agrees, and says that I may be uniquely positioned to bring Pete’s theories into broader conversations, academic or otherwise, because of the breadth of my studies. “Well,” I acquiesce, “anything to put that PhD sitting in a box in my living room into use…”

More laughter; this time, it rings a little longer, a little more distant.

I just hope I don’t let him down.

Basically, something got lost in translation along the way and R got it into his mind that ours might be a sexual relationship. It wasn’t. And I told him this, in explicit terms.

As I’ve explained at length in my other writings, I wasn’t offended by this; it was, more than anything, annoying and disappointing. I may be an adult, but I’m still young enough to be R’s daughter… doesn’t that count for anything? And, can I also reserve the right to not talk PhD shop in my off-time, perhaps due to what the Male Gaze might see as the novelty that the “beautiful blonde” sitting at the bowling alley bar is a tri-lingual Fulbright scholar with a doctorate from an Ivy League institution? Can I not be defined by anything external, and instead just sit here and observe Pete in his element without having to engage in any conversation whatsoever? After all, this is, in large part, a participant/observation-based fieldwork project, and I would appreciate the space to do my research in peace without having to fend off innuendos – sexual or otherwise.

And I told him this, in explicit terms.

But this?

You, look at you. You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, except for Doreen.[8] Of course, Doreen. You’re beautiful, and you know I love her. She’s… yeah. Yeah. She’s… Doreen’s my woman. We’ve been together since 70s. We knew from the moment we saw each other. She’s beautiful, inside and out. She gave up everything to take care off her family. That’s beauty; THAT’S love. And you know, you know when I tell you you’re beautiful, it’s different. She loves you. I love you. We’ve talked about it and we see you as our daughter. We really do. You’re beautiful!! Look at you! This tall blonde drink of water sitting over here. You’re like Uma Thurman! Haha! Look, we got Kill Bill sittin’ over here![9]

This one time, yeah, I did a rap song. Yeah, with these two guys. It was really something. We did it in ONE TAKE! ONE SHOT![10] And you shoulda been there, haha, yeah, you shoulda been there. Maybe you were there, you know, I know you know it. You know what I mean. Look at you, you don’t even need a notebook. I know you know. You remember everything I’m saying. I know it. And so we did this rap song, and I come out with these lyrics, and this little rhythm. I was a drummer, you know, playin’ all around Brooklyn, and even Vermont, for years! Stowe. Lovely, beautiful place. So I says these lines, you know, as though there was a hi-hat going along with me at the same time. *
claps rhythm with hands, making a hi-hat cymbal motion with his hands.* And it went: “Paid my way / for an all-night fling / to knock the cobwebs off that thing. To knock the cobwebs off that thing!

I did a commercial once, yeah, an interview, something. Starburst candies. You know those chewy candies? Oh, I love Three Musketeers bars. I keep them in my pocket at all times. You know, of all the candy bars, they’re the healthiest. No nuts! No caramel! So anyway, I did this interview. It was a cartoon. And they ask[11] me about the Bermuda Triangle, what I think about it. So I says to them, lemme ask[12] you something, have you ever heard of another triangle, a black triangle where whatever you put in it disappears? HAVE YOU? HAHA! IT’S ALL THE SAME THING! IT’S A SYLLOGASMTICISM! HAHA! A BLACK TRIANGLE AND WHATEVER YOU PUT IN DISAPPEARS! Oh, young lady, should I say these things to you? Please, you understand. It’s a joke, but it’s also real, because it’s all the same. It’s all connected. It’s the evolved, collective fluidity of life. The same patterns again and again, we see them…


No. This is not threatening to me as a scholar, or a woman. Frankly, it’s f****ing hilarious.

I almost soiled myself laughing with that “cobwebs” bit.

Plus, Pete knows better. He may be a man who loves the ladies, and I may be a “tall blonde drink of water,” but that’s inconsequential. It’s all OK. And I know that because I feel it.

Just like I felt it when R got back in touch. He learned, he knew, I forgave, I understood. I was happy to hear from him, and to hear from Pete in turn.[13]

And would you believe me if I told you he updated me on theories directly pertinent to the piece I’ve been working on?

I’ve got some good stuff for you. Yeah, some really good stuff, from the last time we talked. I’ve been thinking about it, about sums… it’s really important…the most important stuff yet…


On Triangles

As discussed, Pete’s A = B, B= C, ∴ A = C syllogism implies that existence is naturally ordered in sets of three. These three elements (A, B, and C), then, share a common element with the shape of a triangle which, of course, has three sides. According to Pete’s reasoning, the relationship between A = B, B= C, ∴ A = C and triangles is an example of the syllogism in action. In other words, if the flow of all existence can be represented by this syllogism — with its three parts (A, B, and C) — and if triangles have three sides, then the flow of all existence can therefore be visually represented by the triangle shape.

Even more broadly, this logic indicates that triangle shape – as a shape and a relationship (as in triangulation) – might very well serve as the building block of all (meta)physical structures in existence.

A very important shape indeed!

While it is impossible to prove any such sweeping theory, Pete – like any good scientist — bases his logic on consistent, long-term observation of naturally occurring phenomena. For example, let us consider H2O: water, one of Pete’s preferred scientific examples for the ubiquity and import of triangulation. Immediately, we see that the coming together of two hydrogen molecules and one oxygen molecule form water – the life-force of our planet far greater and more infinite than its parts — illustrates the 1+1=3 syllogism. Moreover, a cursory look at a water molecule reveals a triangular shape:

Water molecule - Stock Image - A700/0381 - Science Photo Library



Thus, we see how one of the most elemental forces of life itself is visually represented by the triangle shape.

And it doesn’t stop there… remember Pete’s words on Bermuda Triangles?

Look around, and you’ll start seeing triangles—groups of three — everywhere.

Tangent C: On Time and Tangents

Euclid and Aristotle were thinking about these things, too. They weren’t even around at the same time, were they? Ha, ha, shows what I know.

Actually, it does.

But they were good guys, Euclid and Aristotle. Good guys. We’re all thinkin’ about this same stuff!

And that’s the point.

As a little girl, I often wondered — like Pete – about the nature of the cosmos. Surely there was some underlying order to everything? There was no way, I thought, that we could possibly just be floating around in space. I’d think about the very fact that there is such a thing called life and soon be transported out of my body, looking down at myself seemingly as though from the outside in, basking in the awe that I – we – even exist.

Later, when learning about dimensions in math class, I asked my teacher if there was anything beyond the three we had learned (a single point, a line, the x/y axis). From her, or on my own, I learned that time was the fourth dimension— and while that made sense conceptually, I spent years mulling over how time, like the other dimensions, naturally builds on those previous.

I get that time is another element that we can factor into math equations, I’d ponder. But how is it a dimension? How is it visually represented—how can it be made tangible?

For these questions – and any other question that I couldn’t logic my way into an answer for, like the God question — I brought myself comfort with a little paradox I devised, which I later learned was reminiscent of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. A mosquito surely couldn’t understand human life, I’d ponder. So how can we mere humans begin to comprehend the nature of the cosmos, of existence, of creation?

Yet there we were, both Pete and I – like Euclid and Aristotle before us, who thought about the same content beyond the parameters of time[16] — ruminating about the same topics, hundreds of miles and decades apart.

Like how the pianist and musicologist Rosalyn Tureck described playing the music of Johann Sebastian Bach: that the idea of utilizing all ten fingers to articulate each note naturally occurred to her, as though from Bach himself. And how Glenn Gould – another pianist of Bach’s music, who is also most often credited with the “devising” the Ten Finger Approach – said that, while he did come to the same conclusion for how Bach’s music should be played independently, his instincts were affirmed by hearing his predecessor Tureck’s recordings of Bach using the same technique.

It’s for these very reasons that I felt so much angst about when to cite sources while writing my doctoral dissertation. I came to the same conclusion about embodied socio-culture during the course of my fieldwork on the music of Japan; because Pierre Bourdieu called this a “habitus” when he came to the same conclusion in the 1980s, does this mean I have to credit him for “devising” the same theory I stumbled across independent?

This, by the way, is why I ultimately chose to leave the academic world.

And it’s also why the sum total of a rogue PhD working with a Brooklyn bartender on a project will produce work with far greater import than anything we could have done as individuals, isolated in our worlds hundreds of miles and decades apart.

Time, as a linear expression, is an illusion. And the closer we get to understanding that, the more we can come out of Plato’s allegorical cave and understand that we, throughout “time,” are merely approaching the same set of questions through different points of entry. It explains the parallels between Pete and me, Euclid and Aristotle, Gould and Tureck, and countless others.

In sum, time does not trace a line; it revolves in a spiral. It is measured not in the incremental of units, but in the process of an evolution. Described this way, we see how time – like the dimensions that precede it – not only build upon the previous structures, they hint at those beyond.

The irony is, of course, that it may take “time” to grasp that.

And this is the logic of tangents. No matter how far-fetched they may seem — and like how it can be challenging to keep up with Pete’s ever-expanding mind — tangents are all approaching the same thing. They’re – it’s — all connected.  

#ECF #1+1=3 #SillyG

Some people say that circles have no sides, while other people say ...


Coda: Helices

If you closely examine a helix, you’ll see that it basically looks like a system of triangles, connected at one angle, spiraling upward and downward, infinitely. Here’s a picture I’m stealing from the internet that pretty much explains what I mean:

Dna structure double helix on white background Vector Image

So, to recap:

1) everything is triangles; triangles are everything
1a) even helices
2) the shape of a helix is naturally four-dimensional, because it accounts for process and evolution in addition to structure
3) A helix is a mathematical signature shape because it’s the shape of something fundamental and elemental that underpins life as we know it
4) I’m not even going to bother to pretend citing this crappy picture I obviously stole from GOOGLE, ALL HAIL! ALL HAIL OUR OVERLORDS! ALL HAIL!!!

And why is this explanation so short?

Ah, it’s the diametric logic of tangents. Indeed, precisely because they are endless, sometimes it’s just best to keep it as short and sweet as possible.

[1] Used without permission from a cursory image search on Google: Our Digital Overlords. When this project gets published, I’ll properly cite this—promise!

[2] See:

[3] In fact, at the world premiere of The Magnitudinous Illuminous, directors Maya Tippett and Rachel Mills had pins, coasters, and other memorabilia emblazoned with this very Pete-ism, along with “Don’t Be a Hemmi-Nietzche”—another Pete-sim to be expounded upon in a subsequent post.

[4] Thus far, we’ve covered Evolved Collective Fluidity #ECF, I Got You Got, and the equation 1+1=3.

[5] This is also one of Pete’s terms. Ironically, Pete’s “isms” are often expansions of words that already exist in colloquial lexicon, as in this particular example: the pre-circulating word “syllogism” is synonymous with “syllogismaticism.”

[6] This exchange took place the week of 4/13, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. My views on this crisis are less concerned with health, but with the Orwellian and Foucaultian rhetoric of “shelter-in-place” and self-policing #stayhome hashtag culture. As of now, my further thoughts on this subject will remain mum—indeed, due to the very Orwellian and Foucaultian implications of our current socio-cultural climate.

[7] Which isn’t necessarily a “bad” thing. For an exegesis of my views on the #metoo movement and my call toward a more inclusive wave of feminism that embraces what I call #intellectualmetoo, please see:

[8] Pete’s life partner, about whom an article is forthcoming.

[9] Pronounced more like, “We got Kill Bill sittin’ ovah heah!”

[10] One Take/One Shot: a theory to be discussed in a forthcoming article.

[11] Most likely pronounced “aksed”

[12] Ibid.

[13] Given that this exchange took place in April 2020, I couldn’t very well go down to the bowling alley and see Pete myself—the irony of which is only compounded by the fact that I moved to an apartment a mere 10 minutes’ walk from Melody Lanes.

[14] Stolen from the internet and used without permission. Whoops!

[15] Pete’s rendition of the water molecule.

[16] It is worth noting with this particular example that Aristotle was one of Euclid’s teachers.

[17] Again, used without permission. Ooh, how exciting it is to not cite everything under the sun! Call it PhD Rebellion.


INTERLUDE: Pete’s Glasses

INTERLUDE: Pete’s Glasses

You see that young lady over there? You see her?![1] SHE’S writing a book about me! She’s the one!!

… and so she wrote, with a deep feeling of responsibility that could no longer be suppressed, which could supersede any doubt or shame or fear that he was wrong.

He’s never wrong.

… and so she kept writing.

I knew before I asked that he’d protest, but I still gave it a shot. After all, knowing-without-knowing, pure and distilled intuition, and trusting the beautiful, perfect, yet entirely unpredictable AND inevitable unfolding of events into the most benevolent outcome for all parties immediately involved and endlessly peripheral…

These hypothetical principles are not only the central tenants of Pete’s theory of Evolved Collective Fludity #ECF, they also serve as the foundation upon which our dynamic is built. And so, to a large extent, the relationship I have with Pete actively (and, true to form, tacitly) excludes explicit discussions of its theoretical parameters. We simply know how to interact with one another, which is how we found each other in the first place. And so with Pete, there are no real questions, because the answer is always the same…

… although its enunciation through which anecdote, tone, mood, or word choices he uses changes every time. Such consistent changeability reminds one of what the legendary astrologer Linda Goodman quipped about the star sign Aquarius: “They’re either changeably stubborn or stubbornly changeable; take your pick,” she writes in the brilliant Sun Signs. Pete isn’t an Aquarius, but he IS a Leo[2] —and Leo and Aquarius are diametrically opposed on the zodiac wheel, forming the complementary 7-7 vibration in which one sign lacks what the other craves, and vice-versa. Worth noting is that the author is an Aquarius Ascendant, which ancient astrologers conceptualized as being more indicative of one’s overall “personality” than the presently accepted notion of Sun Signs. 

Indeed, this serves as a pithy case study of how equal is opposite, and opposite is equal: ideas discussed in a forthcoming article on Pete’s theories of Mathematical Signature Shapes. The relationship to astrology, itself a science of shape and relation, further illustrates this point.

So anyway, I asked him, in as sweet of a voice as my Libra Sun could wheedle, because if I’m gonna try, I’m gonna pull out the big guns, you know?

“…No,” Pete says softly.  “NO!” He laughs, then sighs and looks off, faraway, to a place I know well.  His voice softens: “No. I… no. Look at you, you’re beautiful. I hate to say no to you. You know I never want to say no to you. I can’t. But I’m sorry, young lady, I never, EVER do this. You know, I’ve never done it in my whole life. Nope, not once. I’ve never done it. No. I cant. Not even for you. I’m sorry… I don’t, yeah, I don’t do it. I can’t. That’s the one thing I won’t do, I CAN’T do.”

… and so I looked at him. Because that’s all I was really asking to do in the first place: to LOOK. To SEE. To UNDERSTAND. And so I told I him I understood, and continued to stare at him from my place in The Office: the three or four seats in the back-left of the bar where Pete insists his “VIP Visitors” sit. Of course, there are many VIPS: people like me who come to this kitschy bowling alley in an area of Brooklyn that, for better or worse, won’t be uncool for that much longer to visit this oracle of a man, this living legend, this cult figure, this energetic hot spot. People come to see Pete for his raw energy, his positive radiance… and the wisdom he imparts, though oft delivered with such rapidity that it’s difficult for most to keep up.[3]

Pete’s beautiful, snowblue eyes dazzle at me from the other side of his glasses, and before seeing the smile spread on his face and his eyes reach up to grab the frames, I felt it from looking at him… from SEEING him.

He sighed. “I can’t believe I’m doing this. I NEVER do this. But I’m doing it for you. I know. You know. You know.”

And he took off his glasses, and gave them to me to try on.

My own eyes surely lighting up – with equal and opposite glee — a feeling of honor akin to having my doctoral hood placed around my neck at the Cornell University PhD graduation ceremony the year prior flooded my stomach and chest. And then, with humility, deliberate awareness, and a swelling sense of deep responsibility… I tried on Pete’s glasses.

The glasses were warm and heavy, filled to the brim with Pete-ness: thoughts, feelings, essence. Classic Coke-bottle lenses with wires sturdy and firm that slid easily over my ears and quickly locked into place; make no mistake, these are the goggles of true scientist. As I pushed the lenses up my nose to glance through them for the first time, the world I saw come into focus was, predictably, decidedly OUT of focus. But in actuality, this was exactly the perspective I have wanted to see for as long as I’ve been trying to get my eyes tested, but somehow get 20/20 results everytime.

What I saw was watery and delicate, like looking out of a foggy windshield into a sky dripping with wet, globby snowflakes. It felt alien, insofar that that world looked like a vague system of interlocking shapes, colors, and energies interacting seemingly at whim but also in graceful symmetry. As soon as I saw this, I suddenly understood Pete all the more. Of course this is what Pete sees! A watercolor world of hazy shapes and fluid interaction… a world of suggestion, of possibility. Of course a man who sees the world this way would theorize about the universal truth of what he would come to call Mathematical Signature Shapes, and how all mathematical, scientific, natural, and metaphysical phenomena are metaphors for something greater… something beyond what we see.

After leaving the bowling alley that night, I couldn’t help but wonder: do glasses actually correct our vision? Is blurry vision something to be fixed, or simply the biophysical representation of how one sees the world? The inkling I had to ask Pete about trying on his glasses in the first place solidified my hyophethis into something closer to a theory that glasses do not fix, but rather allow their wearers access to a standardized visual matrix: itself devoid of any real meaning, and fundamental distraction from the greater truths of the universe. Indeed, the idea of a mutually negotiated reality is one expounded upon, among others, by phenomenological linguistic theorist Jaques Derrida, who supposed that semantic meaning does not inherently exist, but is agreed upon through mutually recognized signs and symbols.

To try one Pete’s glasses, then, is thus a means of seeing the world as Pete, and to gain a (literal) glimpse into how he (literally) sees the world. And not only is there no wrong way to see the world in general, Pete’s particular way is a gift to the rest of us… and not just those of us who crowd around in The Office at Melody Lanes, but for everyone else who can be potentially positively impacted by the accessibility, power, and truth of his vision.

And yes, in more ways than one.

#evolvedcollectivefludity #ECF

What I saw when I looked through Pete’s glasses was completely new, but also utterly familiar. None of this is surprising, given the foundation for the relationship that Pete and I share. Indeed, our mutual (and tacit) insistence that we connect purely in-sync with the powers of ECV inspired me to not tell him my name for the first four months of our liaison-ship. After all, what’s in a name—really? Our agreement mystified all but us, who laughed with affirmation that we had both finally found another person who understood that words are, again in congruence with the theories of Derrida, mere symbols or signs—but not meaningful in and of themselves.

The jig was only up when I missed one of his calls and he heard my voicemail message. But that only prompted him to do some research on who his mysterious, anonymous “Scientist” who mutually (and tacitly) agreed to do this project together, and my credentials seemed to please him.

“YOU,” he has exclaimed on more than one occasion with varying degrees of humor and exasperation, “ARE PROOF that I’M NOT CRAZY.” Which is honor to hear besides, but hey, anything to put that PhD from Cornell sitting in a box in my living room to use…

Yet looking through Pete’s glasses transported me to the feeling of “home,” not just because the glassy, soft sheen it cast on the world reminded me of the colors of a northern Vermont winter, but because it gave me the chance to see the world in a way I’ve always dreamed, but could never visualize for myself. I don’t have prescription glasses, but I’ve long been convinced that I should. Yet every time I go to the eye doctor, I get told I have 20/20 vision or even better. So while I can see the world clearly, when I allow my eyes to lose focus on the material details of the third dimension and drift into a watercolor world of hazy shapes, of fluid interaction, my body relaxes and my face un-strains, and aaaaahhhhhhh

… it’s that feeling of home.

And looking through those Coke bottle lenses also allowed me to see – SEE – Pete in a new way, because I detected a faint loneliness… the melancholy that comes from being on the outside looking in. In his groundbreaking work in the burgeoning field of existential anthropology, Michael Jackson (the scholar, not the singer) has supposed that those of us who become ethnographers – ethnomusicologists like myself, cultural anthropologists, anybody who writes about the lives of others, or themselves – have perhaps always felt alien: different, unable to truly participate in society blindly, and on the outside looking in. This certainly resonated with me when I was preparing the literature review in my doctoral thesis, where I justified the ethnographic approach to my research.[4] But it also hit home – literally – on a personal level. After all, being raised in a ramshackle farmhouse on the dead-end of a dirt road in a rural Vermont border town with French Canada isn’t exactly something I’ve had in common with most people I’ve encountered in adult life. Add in the fact that I basically grew up outside in cold, biting, soft, gorgeous, unforgiving, austere, milky, harsh and gentle, gorgeous, wistful, remote, did I say gorgeous part of the country — notorious for long and bitterly cold winters with feet of snow on the ground for a good five months of the year — and my consciousness seems even more faraway in comparison to the common societal denominator. Further considering that winter has all but disappeared with global warming, and that many in the common societal denominator seem to celebrate this possibility with gleeful quips about how winter is terrible,[5] and it feels like the place I think of as “home” doesn’t really exist anymore.

But it did when I put on those glasses.

How brilliant it is that this is the world that Pete sees, naturally. How Pete’s vision so vividly – and literally – puts the third dimensional reality into perspective: the plane where we may see objects for what they are, but not how they interact… a plane of materiality that can trap us into the meaningless merry-go-rounds of excess, vapid and ephemeral pleasure, excess, and greed. Pete’s glasses, then, are effectively a translator so that he – existing on both the material and the mathematical-spiritual planes[6] — can function as the conduit he is, espousing timeless universal truths from behind the bar at Melody Lanes.

How lucky us VIPs truly are.

Pete, thank you for breaking your lifelong rule for your Scientist.

Coda: On Snow

Pete was young—in first or second grade. His teacher had given a writing assignment to the class to describe what they wanted to be when the grew up, and why. Pete was sitting at the window at his grandmother’s house, in Brooklyn’s notoriously old-school, notoriously Italian Bay Ridge neighborhood.[7] His grandmother used to cook him meatballs and give them to Pete on a fork, which he would then proceed to eat like a candy apple. Pete loved his grandma because, like any good Italian grandma, he coddled him. She didn’t spoil him, but she did indulge him—she comforted him, she believed in him, she loved him, she trusted him, encouraged him. She SAW him.

Looking out of the window at the snow falling and cumulating on the sidewalk, Pete suddenly realized what he wanted to be when he grew up:

A snowflake.

A snowflake, when it falls at the top of a hill or mountain, starts out as just one. But as more snow falls, more snow cumulates and starts to stick together. And then that one snowflake and all of its snowflake friends sticking together may even make a snowball, and when the snowball rolls down the hill or mountain it gathers even MORE snow. And by the time it gets to the bottom it’s this big giant ball with millions and billions or even trillions of snowflakes, and even though it started out as one, it was really part of something bigger… something whole.

Something collective.

And that the little snowflake not only never had to be alone ever again, but never was alone in the first place.

So of course in a parallel dimension – not even necessarily decades later, because linear time is an illusion (and a concept to be discussed in forthcoming articles) – in the hilly pastures in front and back of the ramshackle farmhouse on the dead-end of the dirt road in northern Vermont, with harsh winters that remind all those people from New York who looooovvveee Vermont because it’s soooooo beautiful that you can’t have the other seasons without the snow so DEAL WITH IT or GET OUT, there she was: a little girl wading her way through the snow. Sledding, making snow balls, eating it sometimes with maple syrup (real, of course) on top, throwing it, jumping in it. Laying down, heads and wool hats, looking up at the velvet night sky, watching the stars… knowing there is something beyond what we see—


— here in the third dimension.

#evolvedcollectivefluidity #ECF

Oh, and it turns out Pete’s teacher thought his ideas about the snowflake were too sophisticated to be written by someone his age.

[1] It feels weird to type out “her,” because Pete speaks in that deeply mellifluous South Brooklyn, “I’ll See You On the Avenue,” Saturday Night Fever, “Hey, I’m walkin’ here!” twang that eliminates the letter R with emphatic, charmingly nasal diphthongs (or vowel combinations, for all those readers whose minds have begun to wander). “YOU SEE THAT YOUNGH LADY OVAH THEAH? YOU SEE HAH!?”

[2] Linda Goodman also points out that one can easily and always discern Leo placements, no matter in the Sun, Moon, or Ascendant positions, by one’s hair. True to the sign’s symbol of the Lion – and also true to Pete’s theories of Internal Consistency, which are discussed in forthcoming writings – a Leo take pride in her or his fabulous mane. And a fabulous mane does Pete indeed have: ice-white hair, a color which quenches your thirst upon glance, slicked back with that old-school, inimitable South Brooklyn swagger, complete with the best pair of Mutton Chops this side of Chester A. Arthur. By the way, my hometown of Fairfield, Vermont, is said to be the birthplace of Chester A. Arthur. #evolvedcollectivefluidity #ECV

[3] Even for me, which isn’t in any way to imply that I’m “smarter” than other patrons at the bar; such a claim would not only be obviously egregious, but grossly self-indulgent. Instead, I say this in reference to the fact that Pete and I mutually (and tacitly, as discussed in previous posts) undertook this project as a natural step in our ever-evolving relationship in the greater matrix of life. So while it’s true that, for whatever reason and due to whatever mechanism #ECF, may have been enlisted to transcribe Pete’s brilliant, important and increasingly urgent theories, even I get lost in his kineticism. It takes time for the ideas to percolate into something tangible—for the distillation to rise to the surface. 

[4] Which, should the reader be interested, is a conversation I have HERE.

[5] I often played winter’s Defense Lawyer during my time working at an old school Italian Mafia joint in South Brooklyn – and yes, Pete is intimately familiar with this restaurant and has even dined there (“EVERYBODY knows New Corners!”) – during small talk with the customers. Cheerful remarks about how winter is refreshing and beautiful comprised my primary subliminal attempts to (re)instill an appreciation for a season that, while having a high upfront cost (after all learning how to savor being a little too cold is an important spiritual skill which Calvin’s dad in Bill Waterson’s brilliant, dear-to-my-heart Calvin and Hobbes comics reminds us “builds character”), is an essential part our planet’s natural balance and healing cycle. My polite banter was most often met with blatant hostility toward the season, despite the fact that it has snowed two times total in the twenty months I’ve lived in New York… and these same customers were, indeed, the ones who asked for extra ice, or demanded that we crank the AC during the summer months. Sigh…

[6] A concept which will be further explained in the forthcoming article describing Pete’s theories of Mathematical Signature Shapes.

[7] Although Bay Ridge (along with its neighboring rival Bensonhurst) remains an Italian American stronghold, the neighborhood now boasts some of the best diversity in all of New York City. The city’s largest Pan-Arabian community lies between around 70th and 80th streets on Fifth Avenue, and may have some kind of punny nickname like “Beiruidge” that I can’t seem to recall. But it’s also possible that I made it up in my head, like I did with the nickname New Utrecht High School students use to pick on their school. Turns it it’s “New Useless” instead of “No Futrecht,” although I dare say that I prefer my own concoction… arrogant? Maybe. But I’m also just a sucker for puns (although admittedly, “Beiruidge” is a pretty crappy one).

The ABCs of Oxygen; Evolved Collective Fluidity (Part 1)

On one of my rare nights off from work a few weeks ago, I felt the pull to go down to Melody Lanes. It’d been about a month since Pete and I had last met, and there were updates I was excited to share—namely the launch of this very website, due to the finalized structural and theoretical format of our project (at last!).

Naturally, Pete was hosting someone in the primely located corner seats of the bar, known to insiders as The Office: where regulars who recognize this truly one-of-a-kind man’s philosophical (and undeniable kitsch) merit convene, observe, listen, and discuss. I’d never seen the particular young woman in The Office that night before, perhaps because I haven’t been stopping by as much in the latter stages of my research. Nonetheless, she was treated unequivocally like an important – integral? – addition to his orbit. Indeed, Pete’s impartiality and readiness to adopt literally anyone into his inner circle is one of his charm points, and demonstrative of one of his signature socio-scientific theories: “Evolved Collective Fluidity,” which describes the qualities of one-ness in all existence.

However, much like how my initial intent that night was to ask Pete about triangles as a follow-up question to supplement a forthcoming article on Mathematical Signature Shapes, I interrupt the flow in our discussion to talk about Oxygen: Pete’s current – and seemingly most urgent — topic of meditation. Indeed, when the young woman’s parents joined her at the bar to finally meet this out-there-and-hilarious-but-probably-definitely-a-genius bartender she had clearly been raving to them about, Pete opened his soliloquy for the evening thus:

“You know about the Nobel Prize winners, right? You know this, right? What did they give them the prize for? Take a guess! It was for oxygen—what I’ve been saying this whole time, and they gave it to them! I’ve been talking about this stuff for years – years! — and they go and give it to them.” He shook his head back an forth a few times, as though incredulous that something so obvious could be awarded the Nobel Prize… and also, perhaps, that he not only didn’t get recognized for his near equivalent accomplishment, but that being recognized for his research at all is off the table entirely.

After all, how could he be awarded for his scientific contributions, stuck behind the bar at some bowling alley in Brooklyn?

By no means was Pete angry about the 2019 Nobel Prize in Medicine being given to physician scientists William Kaelin, Jr., Peter Ratcliffe, and Greg Semenza for their work on oxygen’s effects at fighting cancer, anemia, and other diseases.[1] Indeed, he quickly qualified his statement by explaining that he’s happy the import of oxygen is finally getting discussed by the scientific community, and disseminated to the public at large. What seemed exasperating for Pete is that he’s been saying it in plain English behind the bar for years, and yet the idea didn’t catch on until it was “discovered” by a group of scientists, who have the privilege of access, funding, and time to formally pursue this research.

And, perhaps because Pete is a classic Leo, his exasperation might be realistically colored by a tinge of jealousy. After all, what’s it gonna take for Pete to discovered? When can he finally retire from his post at the bar so he, too, can dedicate his time to his existential, scientific, and mathematical work? #petethemathematician #petethescientist

On that note, let’s discuss Pete’s theories on the subject.

1. Oxygen

Oxygen, according to Pete’s existential brand of research[2], is perhaps the most important life force due to its restorative and regenerative properties. Much like the Nobel Prize research on the subject has demonstrated, the more oxygen we have in the body, the better: our cells function at optimum level, which in turn allows our bodies and minds to operate in top working condition. In addition to boosting our potential to ward off disease—notably cancer – increased oxygen in the body ultimately grants us access to become the fully realized versions of ourselves.

While the specific, scientific processes of how oxygen accomplishes these results might be best left to this team of physician scientists, Pete’s research – true to form – is able to offer us a practical solution for getting as much oxygen in our body as possible. To this end, he has devised the following formula:

2. ABC: Arch/Align, Breathe, Core

Although largely self-explanatory, the ABC formula theorizes that aligning oneself through yoga (and its oft literal arching poses) and meditation allows us to breathe deeply into our cores, thus activating the power of oxygen most effectively. Pete’s ABC formula plays into popular discourse on the subject of minding one’s breath for stress relief as well.

So, when in doubt, just ABC. That’s all we have to do to get as much as the good stuff in us as possible.

Coda: Evolved Collective Fluidity, Part 1 of Many

Perhaps there is no coincidence between Pete’s persistent rumination on oxygen over the past year (at least) and the 2019 Nobel Prize in Medicine. In fact, this would demonstrate another of Pete’s theories, this time less overtly scientific and more philosophical: that of Evolved Collective Fluidity. A way of making sense of chaos’ precarious relationship with coincidence, Evolved Collective Fluidity accounts for what Pete (and quantum theorists, both armchair and actual) identify as the undeniable oneness of all life. Similar to Carl Jung’s idea of the collective unconscious, wherein archetypes are universally recognized seemingly from birth, Evolved Collective Fluidity explains why Pete jumps into everything with two feet—and why we should take a page from that book. It explains how it seems that every time I go to Melody Lanes, someone I’ve never seen before is suddenly occupying a chair in the Inner Circle. It also explains how Pete and the Nobel Prize laureates are thinking about the same content at the same time.

As he often muses underneath the TV screens while standing behind the plastic cups and taps of Bud and Blue Point, “Every day, someone walks through that bar who completes me.” Clever and provocative, yes, but this quip is as philosophically and even scientifically charged as it is memorable. Living life with an understanding of Evolved Collective Fluidity allows us to sit back, relax, and go with the flow—because all of there is a logic to the chaos that brings us to exactly where need to be physically, mentally, and spiritually. It is inescapable; we are all functioning as one, as part of a concentric system of organisms that organizes the entire cosmos.

And so, a more mathematical/scientific explanation of Evolved Collective Fluidity is forthcoming. For now, dear readers, let Evolved Collective Fludity sink in—as well as the message of ABC, both in terms of getting as much oxygen into your body as you can, and in terms of the non-coincidence that bring an elite team of Swedish scientists and Pete the Bartender into the same circle.


[1] See:

[2] Which seems to be almost quantum in nature. As mentioned in the previous article, Pete is able to access the infinite intelligence of the universe – which is largely thought to be accessed only through formalized research methods, conducted by physician scientists the very same as those who received the Nobel Prize for research on Oxygen—seemingly out of thin air. Pete’s research methodology, he explains, is merely comprised of logical inference based on information provided by patterns in nature as well as mathematics, which are diametrically (equally and oppositely) related. 

1 + 1 = 3, “I Got You Got”

Once Pete and I claimed what seemed to be our fated connection with one another, I began to visit him on regular intervals; perhaps you could call it participant/observation-based fieldwork. Drawing upon my anthropological training during my doctoral studies – and equipping myself with a notebook, pen, and a photographic memory that continues to come in handy in my adulthood — I’d transcribe his inspired theoretical espousings and observe his (inter)actions behind the bar to gain a more fully nuanced understanding of this man. Make no mistake, Pete is an eccentric fellow with hilarious (and jarringly poignant) quirks, quips, and life stories for days. But while most of the rather extensive coverage on Pete tends to focus on these externalities — including his mannerisms, appearance, and his proclivity toward philosophical musings– this project seeks to present Pete as the philosopher and mathematician that he is.

Over the course of fifteen months (as of November 2019), our fieldwork naturally took on a pattern that, first and foremost, was based on what we both have long understood even prior to our meeting as a divine, benevolent organizing force that not-so-coincidently brings people together – or pushes them apart, for that matter. As such, our meetings were never planned so as to preserve the entirely organic quality of our liaison-ship; in fact, for the first three months he did not even know my name, at our mutual behest. (The jig was up, though, when he called me and reached my voicemail, which revealed my third-dimensional identity. But since this happened naturally, we took it in stride and integrated it into our ever-unfolding narrative). I simply saw Pete when I needed to see him, and Pete would generally be expecting me; there was a tacit, yet palpable, understanding of when it was time to touch base.  

During the course of these meetings, I began to suspect that Pete is something an oracle, with access to other dimensions and information that he can, it at time seems, pull out of the ether. At any given time, there are several people at the bar who also have deep, spiritual connections with this man that are as real and genuine as the one he and I share. Even if some people might very well write him off, there is no denying that everyone who meets Pete detects that special not-quite-hereness about him: it’s as though he’s halfway on the other side already, embodying a kind of quantum existence that keeps him in multiple places at once as an energy, or an essence that transcends our earthly vessels.

And so, theory and anecdote are presented alongside one another in this project, as they are intertwined and mutually define one another. There is no particular or chronological order to their presentation, not least because they all “get at” the same idea: interconnectedness, and the generative potential that lay not in individual parts, but rather in the special alchemy that only comes about through the process of merging.

With that, let’s discuss one of Pete’s most profound existential mathematical equations, and its parallel aphorism.

1. 1 + 1 = 3

Of course, in terms of numeric value, we all know that 1 + 1 = 2. What Pete’s describing here is the energetic phenomenon of that special shared, “third” space when two individual parts converge that is ultimately greater than the mere sum of their combined parts.

Pete often points to natural phenomenon as evidence for his theories, and so I will do the same in unpacking this theory. An obvious example of 1 + 1 = 3 in action is creating life. Of course, there are “scientific logistics” for what happens when a man’s sperm meets a woman’s egg, but the mere fact that two people – or any two animals — can somehow make a third person by merging together through the act of sex is an astounding existential mystery. What’s more, the person created is not merely the sum of her parents, but is instead her own seed of potential that can create her own 1 + 1 = 3 scenarios of infinite abundance. Because the chain is endless, “3” is thus not necessarily a literal sum, but rather a metaphor. When individuals (or discrete elements of any kind) come together for any reason, the result is a potential for abundance not attainable – completely unable to exist — in their state of separateness.

1a. “I Got You Got”

A related theory to 1 + 1 = 3 is Pete’s idea of “I Got You Got.” Although many readers will find this to be cleverly self-explanatory, the following explanation is provided in the spirit of theoretical exegesis and in the proper tradition of formal academic work. “I Got You Got” indicates the special alchemy (phrase of the day?) that happens when two people, say, help each other out. It’s related to “I scratch your back, you scratch mine,” only rather than describing a mutual exchange of favors or special treatment, “I Got You Got” indicates that all parties involved naturally benefit from mutual free-exchange.

What better example of “I Got You Got” than the liasion-ship Pete and I share. As documented in the introductory post, I met Pete at a time when I was looking for my first long-term intellectual project that wasn’t bound by any curriculum; after all, I had recently completed a PhD and, while I was burnt out on meeting requirements, preparing for the dissertation defense, and completing final edits according to the intellectual demands of my team of professors, long-term research natural appeals to me. What’s more, my training in ethnographic (cultural-anthropological, fieldwork-based) research piques a curiosity in studying human beings, almost as though from the outside in.

Naturally, Pete’s (albeit) eccentricity and undeniable, raw genius was a perfect fit for my purposes. But for him, meeting me has apparently given him what he’s always looked for: “proof that I’m not crazy.” Here, we have a meeting of 1 + 1.

So, what’s the abundance (represented by “3”) in our equation—what are we “getting” out of our “I Got You Got” scenario? Much like how two brilliant independent film makers were able to show a gorgeous film they made about Pete that brought both parties opportunity and well-deserved recognition (see:, serving as a kind of ghost-writer for Pete’s theories gives me the satisfaction of conducting a long-term research project at the same time that it helps Pete accomplish what he has indicated is his life’s work: to share his theories with a broader audience than whomever wanders into the bar at Melody Lanes Bowling Alley.

And, following the logic of 1 + 1 = 3 and “I Got You Got,” in this process, we are both going to mutually benefit with abundance, somehow and someway. What that abundance looks like us not up for us to determine (marking another key difference between “I Got You Got” and “I scratch your back, you scratch mine”); that is for the organizing force to bestow upon us. But it would certainly be wonderful if Pete could retire his post behind the bar, where he performs manual labor and works late hours on a leg with sciatica in his late sixties. And it would certainly be wonderful if I could have the resources to travel to see my friends and family around the world, and retire my own post at a notorious Bay Ridge Italian joint (that Pete, as a Bay Ridge Italian, of course intimately knows).

But more than anything, it would be wonderful if Pete’s theories could be widely accessed. They are brilliant at capturing extremely abstract phenomena in simple, easy-to-understand terms that have the power to create peace and understanding during a time when they are so sorely needed.


“YOU are PROOF that I’M NOT CRAZY”: A Spiritual/Intellectual Liaison-ship with Peter Gallo Napolitano

(originally published July 12, 2019 @

Or intellectual/spiritual. Really, these are one and the same thing anyway– which is the ultimate point that Pete’s theories aim to elucidate. #petethemathematician

“One day, someone’s going to walk in that door who will complete me– the person I’ve been looking for…”

It was my friend’s birthday in September of 2018. I had just moved to New York, with no plan other than “go for my dreams” and find a waitressing gig to supplement my teaching at Binghamton University #gobearcats #304 #111. It was an interesting time: still very much recovering from the trauma of finishing my PhD (which I’ve written about extensively in other posts), and untangling myself from the grips of various obsessions that developed in the wake of my PhD-induced mental instability, I was also FREE for the first time in my life (in this country, anyway)… everything was new, open-ended, and could go anywhere.

My friend (shout-out to JENNY, LITERALLY THE MOST ANTI-SYSTEM PERSON I KNOW BECAUSE SHE WALKS THE WALK, MAN, AND YOU KNOW WHAT, SHE DOESN’T EVEN TALK THAT MUCH TALK. THAT’S THE BEST COMBO… WATCH AND LEARN, GUYS, CUZ THIS IS WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE!! JENNY, YOU’RE A GODDESS!!!!!), always hip to truly special — REAL — places and people, chose a bowling alley called Melody Lanes in Sunset Park for her fiesta. I fuckin’ live in Sunset Park-ish, so I fuckin’ went.

I dunno. I already don’t like how this narrative is shaping up. You know how many people have profiled Pete? Even as we speak, I’m not the only person writing about him– some dudes are transcribing his life story, chapter for chapter. A duo of awesome ladies made a documentary short film about him, The Magnitudious Illuminous, that premiered at DOCNYC last November and a bunch of other film festivals since (the movie is great, btw). Even the New York Times has profiled him, TWICE: “Oh, here’s this crazy genius bartender! Sunset Park. Brooklyn sure is great and weird, isn’t it? Blah blah blah blah blah.”

So if you want that, go here:

Here’s Pete (a pic stolen from some other article, which you can access here:

Image result for pete napolitano

Anyway, here’s what happened. I think I tried to order a drink or something, and realized quickly it wasn’t going to happen because the dude was way off in outer space, going on long philosophical tangents and cackling maniacally. I must have waited ten minutes or more; it wasn’t happening. He wasn’t even looking in my general direction. Naturally, I instantly loved him. And I also understood him– not only as a fellow “wacky” human being recognizing a kindred spirit of sorts, but in terms of the content he was espousing.

Someone next to me was doing what I learned is the typical reaction to Pete, which is a sort of loving laugh/head-shake thing. “Oh man, there he goes again! That’s our Pete! Ha ha!”

I forget what, exactly, he was saying at that particular moment– it was about time, I think. Emptiness and wholeness, paradoxes. And so I said to the person next to me something to the effect of:

“Actually, it seems like he’s talking about an ancient Zen principle of emptiness and wholeness being one and the same. That the path toward wholeness is one of releasing and embracing, rather than grasping.”

He stopped, looked me dead in the eye (for the first time since I had arrived), and said: “YES.”

Then I asked him: “What are your thoughts on destiny?”

And we started to talk.

I eventually had to go, but I promised him I’d come back and he put his forehead to mine– the quintessential Pete gesture of mutually acknowledging connection.

Ten months later, I realize we’ve been having the same conversation this whole time.

This — and the posts about Pete that follow (which are categorized under the hashtag #petethemathematician) — is my effort to catalog our conversations as both the exemplars of Pete’s theoretical philosophical content, and also as the ongoing narrative between two souls who were destined to find each other.

As we will learn, they are really one and the same thing.

#intellectual/spiritual #spiritual/intellectual

A few weeks later, I had this inkling to had back to Melody and see Pete.

You know, it would be really fun to write a book about this guy. Like, not a dissertation, but a book… a project. I dunno, let’s see and find out if there’s something here.

But as I was walking up to 37th street, it suddenly occurred to me that this man — so popular as to have a cult following, and to have been profiled by the New York Times and other major media outlets — may not only NOT be interested in such a project… indeed, he may not even remember me! After all, Pete is pretty eccentric, and he meets lots of people; who’s to say that our connection was mutually acknowledged?

I went anyway. It was a Wednesday.

And when I walked in the door, he coolly said, “Welcome to Melody Lanes. Can I get you something to–“

Yes, at the exact moment when I thought he had surely forgotten me…


Then, as if reading my mind, he explained to the one other person at the bar:

“You see this young lady right here? You see her?? SHE AND I are WRITING A BOOK TOGETHER.”

I’m not kidding.

“One day, someone’s going to walk in that door who will complete me– the person I’ve been looking for…”

Pete, YOU are that person for ME.

And before we get going, let me just say this…

Thank you for being the one man in my life who has ever jumped in, two-feet, head-first, no reservations, no turning back, fully acknowledging the connection. Thank you for getting it 100%, recognizing how special it is, recognizing that the time is NOW, that we are already one, that this was meant to be, and for giving me permission to go full-bore at the pace of my choosing… which is to say, ALL IN, IMMEDIETLY. Thank you for giving me the space and permission to LOVE (in a grandly cosmic sense) you without being scared, without wondering if it’s too much, if it’s wrong…

You’re the person I’VE been looking for.

Subsequent chapters forthcoming.