A Center-Centric—Centered Blogpost about Centerness

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Several weeks ago, we paid the Central Square Theater a visit to see The Life of Galileo, a readaptation of Berthold Brecht’s play. For the most part, this particular piece of theater fell short of emotionally penetrating me. In the second half, though, it’s ordered turbulence did trigger a series of bifurcations in my musings. Amid all this talk of heliocentrism and geocentricism, the question hit me, What’s so great about being in the center? People were burned at the stake for saying that man was not at the center of the solar system. It feels like a great place to be, but why? We feel important there, but why?

In the King James Bible Chronicles 16:30 state that “the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved.” Psalm 104:5 says, “[the Lord] Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.” Ecclesiastes 1:5 states that “The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.”

You don’t have to look far to find references to centeredness. The idea pervades our culture. I thought I’d start a list of reasons that make being at the center a good thing. These reasons are in no particular order and fall into overlapping levels of abstraction. They also assume different definitions for goodness, although I’d say more than not, they refer to evolutionary goodness. I’m sure I’ve overlooked some obvious ones, so please keep the list growing.

Protection from the outside
At the center of the herd, you’re the most protected from predators and intruders. They have to get through all of them before they can have you.

Line of sight
At the center it is easiest to see approaching animals from all directions.

Focal point
An well crafted lens collects energy and focuses it onto a central point. This is why you can burn leaves with a magnifying glass.

Center of attention
At the center of the tribe, the most eyes and ears are focused on you. In light of mirror neurons, this facilitates maximal imitation, thus increasing your power of meme replication. When you’re the center of attention, your channel capacity for information transmission is relatively high.

Stability
Centers are balancing points. They are centers of gravity. Often, in dynamic systems—from mechanical to social—the center point is stable. This sense of stability carries over into our aesthetic response. Centering is a pivotal concept in design, typography, interior decorating, etc.

Point of symmetry

Equidistance
At the center, you are equidistant from all points at the perimeter of a circle or sphere.

Stillness
The axle of the wheel. The eye of the storm. Everything moves around you while you simply stand still. In the case of the axle, you enable the movement.

Inclusion

The center is the most you can be inside a set. It maximizes your changes of inclusion in subsets of the circle.

Averageness

Geometrically speaking, the center is the average of all points in a circle. The centroid of a plane is the intersection of all straight lines that divide the plane int two parts of equal moment about the line. Averages are safe.

Uniqueness
In a circle or sphere, there is only one center point. Due to symmetry, there are more than one of other points. There can only be one origin point. (0, 0)

Position of control

BLank-centered approach to something. (You fill in the the blank)
I can’t help picturing the DJ up in the booth at Laces, between all those flashing neon lightning bolts. (Laces was a Long Island roller rink I attended many a birthday party at).

A core upon which complexity is built
________ - centered view of _________
________ - centered approach to __________
Center as the plant of the feedback system.

Gaussian distribution
The bell curve. The mean of a nondeterministic system.

Top of the trajectory
Because of gravity, a thrown ball reaches it’s maximum height at the center of its path.

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3 Responses to “A Center-Centric—Centered Blogpost about Centerness”

  1. dan says:

    but i AM the center of my universe. everything does revolve around me.

  2. Alita says:

    being a centre of attentions is great but being a self-centered person is evil.

  3. DCGunther says:

    The Centricity of the Life Cycle

    The fluctuations of life create a unrelated time frame from when we are totally void of any centricity because we are made to feel that our children should be the center of our lives. After they become independent, you long for a center to gravitate towards, but the path becomes unclear. Your children stay there, indefinitely until they must leave to allow their children to now enter the circle.

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