The Cosmic Egg
Updated January, 2022
My name is Prayag1 George2 Singh3 Chatha4. I am a native of uptown Manhattan (“the Heights”) but grew up mostly in Baltimore, MD. I graduated with a BA/MA in mathematics from Wesleyan University5 in 2017 and retain some sentimental attachment to New England.
This website is a collection of writing on my professional and actual interests. I try to keep these two separate, as a means of staying both solvent and sane.
“Everything flows” is a quote attributed to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus “the obscure.” He was an approximate contemporary of Gautama Buddha, which I mention because both the “Westerner” and the “Indian” intuited a constantly-shifting reality and the contradictory nature of things. If only for biographic reasons, I enjoy a good East/West mashup. Call me a dialectical dougla, or a fortune-cookie philosophe.
The Ouroboros symbolizes infinity and zero, the many and the one, the alpha and omega (eschatological), eating and shitting (scatological). Basically: flux and contradiction, and it looks Cool. When I was a kid, I thought snakes got a bad rap, being held responsible for the Fall of our species into its present sordid state. However, the Gnostics (allegedly) believed the Serpent to be a great teacher of humankind. There is no suffering without consciousness, but perhaps there is the potential to rise above suffering.
It comes from The Way of Zen by Alan Watts. I don’t understand what it means.
In 2017, I wrote my master’s thesis on homogeneous dynamics and metric number theory (a.k.a. Diophantine approximation) under the supervision of Felipe Ramírez. I remember less than I’d like about theoretical math. Nevertheless, a reason I ended up switching fields was because I struggled to communicate what I was working on to the Layperson over the span of an elevator ride. Mathematics is a lonely hike. As Euclid said, “there is no royal road to geometry.”
I worked in Tech in between degree programs, but I’ll leave vulgar, mercenary matters to L*nked*n. Necessarily, my work experience colors much of my outlook. (Subjectivity emerges from productive activity.)
Music has been my oldest hobby as well as a sporadic side-gig. While I attended Wesleyan, I played organ and piano for events at the university chapel and subbed in as accompanist for the occasional Sunday service in local churches. In September 2019, I was musical director for an off-off-Broadway cabaret directed by my talented friend and former classmate Miranda Haymon. These days, I mostly play Jazz piano for fun.
The .io domain name comes from the British Indian Ocean Territory, a remote set of islands. In the mid 20th century, the UK’s government forcibly expelled the inhabitants of the Chagos Archipelago in order for the USA to build a military base (one among hundreds). Because of its similarity to I/O (input-output) and the Italian io, the .io TLD became popular for tech blogs and personal sites. It is certain that Chagossians don’t receive a dime for .io web traffic.
This history is an illustration of commodity fetishism at play. No less in the slick, unbounded world of the Web, the goods and services we enjoy (or at least consume) everyday are the products of a society built on domination and suffering. “The whole mystery of commodities, all the magic and necromancy that surrounds the products of labor…vanishes” by the time you click on the shopping cart icon.
If we are to make it on this planet, we will have to break the spell Stuff has cast on us and rediscover a connection to Others.
“The place of sacrifice,” or perhaps less literally “the shrine” in Sanskrit. Also a metonym for “confluence of rivers,” due to the ancient Indian city of Prayaga sitting on the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna. Since then known as “Allahabad” (the City of God, pace Augustine); since 2019 known as “Prayagraj,” thanks to symbolic revanchism in the Old Country. ↩
Greek for “farmer” (worker of the earth). My greatgrandfather’s name, the name of history’s most hallowed crocodile hunter, and (regrettably) the name of a war criminal and my former sovereign. ↩
“Beehive” in Hindi, though this is dubious. I was into the eusocial insects as a kid (shouts out to the recently departed E.O. Wilson), so I’ll take it. The Chatha clan were Jats living on the Chenab river in modern-day Pakistan and split into Sikh and Muslim branches a ways back. ↩
That’s two things I have in common with Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wields considerable talent toward the end of Cringe. How about an Andrew Jackson musical? A less self-flattering American tragicomedy of violence and celebrity: what are Americans really about? ↩