Wednesday, 21 January 2009

The State of Zero

Missmarketcrash is still thinking about "Zero as a number does not make sense".  After Obama's inaugural speech yesterday, the whole world now knows the banks are at less than zero, and zero would be a rather welcome state to be in at the moment if one were a bank.  The stock markets took notice as well, and did a fantastic swan dive.  But, let's digress for a moment and ponder "Zero"...

In politics, the term "Year Zero" is a zinger.  If for any reason, after a significant event, a country would like to completely shed its past, its cultures and traditions, and, start afresh, well, it might change its calendar and start afresh with year 1, creating a new base in time.  The French revolution tried such a manuever, as did Cambodia.  So, conceptually, it has the capacity to contain more than a bit of an ominous element to it.  

So, onto plain old Zero.  "How can something be nothing" is what I think my son was getting to, centuries after the ancient Greeks pondered the same thing.  Of course, Ancient Greeks believed the world was orderly and intelligible, where as our current civilization is perceiving things within the age of chaos theory.  Quite appropriate at the moment.  Parmenides of Elea was a precurser to Hamlet with the question "Is it, or is it not?".  We've seen a surge of bankers and financiers on the "to be or not to be" topic decide not-to-be in recent months.

So, the idea of zero sometimes contains an innate element relating to "control" within it.  Zero divides us from the negative, standing as a gatekeeper to missing things.  Zero is a neutral territory, but not quite a null unknown, though it stands close to a philosophical world of indetermination.   Much like the neutral response of one of my more learned friends, it almost seems to say "I see..." in response to something.  If you've ever authored a DVD, you know zero is what one would assign as a "country" to let the DVD be enjoyed worldwide with no restrictions.

Much more could be written as there is a world of "Zero" in concept out there to ponder.  But, in regard to The-Banking-Thing, we finally have been told we are far far far less than zero.  I'm expecting my ex-beloved Bank of America stock to reach the state of zero in the next coming weeks.  Nationalization looms, and, that is basically a return to a state of Zero.  And that brings us neatly round back to the question as to whether Zero as a number makes sense.

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