How Many Belong?


One is not the first, but one coming upon another will expect either union or a
sudden proliferation, eleven perhaps, which is merely one twice. One is neither lonely nor
isolated but clandestine or tangential when confronted with groups, which are, after all,
merely gatherings of ones.
Nor is two the result of one’s desires. Two recognizes one only as a component of
halves and thus sees one as merely a placeholder. If two wishes to remain complete, two
must not merely mate but duplicate, and thus we arrive at two pairs of two (which two
does not recognize as four) and duplicate again to become two sets of two pairs of two
(which two does not recognize as eight) and so on into the impossible distance. In this
way two remains perpetually very young, younger, in fact, than one, and does not live in
the future, which does not exist in the world of two. Whereas one is genderless, having
no contrast, two is distinctly feminine, capable of giving birth, and is often falsely
characterized as innocent. Neither is it helpful to view two as balanced.
Three, on the other hand, is masculine and likes caves and stories inspired by fire.
Three is not waiting for anything. Three is on its way to the next possibility but does not
know this. Three acquires territory inside the mind and tries to represent this with
external markers. Three does not like to be analyzed and refuses to be considered a
collection of ones. Three is too quickly too big for three’s clothing. The concept of
innocence, which we have denied to two, does not belong to three either and can be
understood by three only as an imaginary dinosaur with unimaginably soft skin.
Four, as has been suggested, is a nervous version of two. It appears to be stable but
its balance requires constant attention. Four is seldom found without the tendency to
repeat itself that was much less insistent in two. Four is available for theories of
equilibrium but ordinary demonstrations of household harmony send it reeling into
realignment. While desirable for its controlled imagination, four does not often live long.
Five is nothing more than four with a handle.
Each of the remaining members of the club has been nominated by another
member, but none knows which one. Because they owe their acceptance to an unknown
accomplice, they tolerate group pictures and celebrate holidays with clumsy affection.
A few have labored extensively to discover their accomplice and failed. For this they are
deeply admired and they are referred to as “prime.”
Quietly, outside each of the many clubhouses, zero waits patiently for
understanding, holding its frequently misunderstood place, not itself understanding that
when understanding comes, the club will be closed.

Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press everyday in 2014 and forthcoming in paperback. Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.