Graphical Representation

(Editor's Note: Another essay written as a writing sample for an application. The promt is originaly from an SAT II test and is reprinted here because I can and becase we still need more entries as part of our testing phase for whipping everything into shape. Enjoy or not, but it's here.)

Life is a journey, a quest, a movement that takes all of us from birth to death to complete. Everyone has a different journey, everyone walks down their own path, and many of us spend the entire journey trying to understanding the meaning of our quest. Sometimes the journey moves us forward, sometimes we move backwards. The journey may send us running in circles, or it may turn us upside-down and jostle us about for years on end. Life shows us many things, but understandability, consistency and uniformity never seem to appear. Thus applying a form or figure to represent our journey through life is both a difficult and illogical task. However, by drawing simple conclusions about the journey from our experience, the world around us, and the wisdom found in art and literature we can obtain a much clearer idea of the shape or form we may use to represent our quest.

Because life is a journey and journeys usually extend from point A to point B, a line might be the simplest and most logical form to use when envisioning life. However, the simplicity of this one dimensional figure is incapable of displaying anything other than linear movement. Life is devoid of many things, and linear movement is one of them. Our journey takes us from some point A, to another different point B, but the path is far from direct. In between point A and point B, we may move backwards, take wrong turns, spend time walking in circles, and meandering endlessly. In addition to its inadequacies when representing the path of life, the line fails to capture a number of other important aspects of life. Most notably, the changes in perspective that result from our experiences and environmental influences are devoid from linear representation. that shape our view of life and the world around us throughout our lives. The circle, with its added dimension, is a much better representation of life than the line, but it too has short comings. The circle, as well as other two dimensional geometric shapes, is regular, exact, and is only able to capture at best one of the many complex aspects of life. Another figure, one which combines the movement of a line, with the changes in perspective of a circle, and a third dimension to display the depth of the human sprit is needed.

The Möbius strip is just that, a one sided figure that can be constructed by taking a strip of paper twisting one end one hundred and eighty degrees and attaching the two ends together. If you place at any point on a Möbius strip, and draw a straight line without removing the point from the paper you will eventually reach your starting point after drawing your line on every surface of the Möbius strip. This object can represent many aspects of a typical human life. The line on the strip represents the movement and change in the journey of life, the circular nature of the line can represent both the cycle and occasional circuitous nature of the journey. The dual dimensional nature of the Möbius strip is puzzling and thus is apt to represent the puzzling nature of our journey and the enduring curiosity of the human mind. It seems that it is this curiosity that leads us to contemplate this question in hopes of understanding ourselves, our journey, the world around us, and our place and purpose in the world.

More than any other single source, our experiences on the journey help us to draw the best conclusions about the nature of the path. Feeling and seeing life's trials on a daily basis can give us the best impressions of a realistic form to represent our journey. At different times in our life we experience the world around us from different perspectives and we travel in different directions; more often than not, we are confused by the reasons and the path that we have to travel. Beneath these experiences is a relentless and undying curiosity about all aspects of life which we as a species seem to possess. Without this thrust and inquisitive nature our existence seems to lose meaning, purpose, and forward drive. These experiences suggest the Möbius strip as a perfect representation of the human experience because it embodies nearly all of the characteristics of the human experience in a concrete and lucid manner.

Academic studies of various disciplines, while not as concrete in nature as studies of our own experience may provide us with an even clearer idea of the form of the sojourn we make. Throughout the studies of literature and history we find numerous examples of the nature of human thought, as well as unique views of the human quest and insightful looks into various parts of the journey from different perspectives. By looking into historical events and figures we can look at the journey of another as a whole from beginning to end. The accounts of the lives of great leaders, and important activists shed light on the lives of those who impact the world in profound ways; their journeys are important and can help us to determine the path we all follow in some form or another. Likewise, the study of literature and the arts can help us to trace the journey of the common people through life and can give us insight into more particular parts of the journey than most historical accounts. Other academic pursuits such as science and mathematics can lend further support in the quest for the meaning and shape of life's journey. The Möbius strip itself is the result of work done by nineteenth century German mathematician August Ferdinand Möbius and it is his work in the field of topology that has allowed us the ability to give form to life's journey. Without studies into science and the humanities, we wouldn't have any notion or grounding in who we are and where we've been. Without such grounding it would be impossible to determine where we are going, and the representative form of the journey as a whole.

The form, structure, reason, purpose, and shape that our journey through life takes is a subject of immense importance and with the assistance of experience on life's road. Through certain academic pursuits we are able to theorize what shape life might take if it were represented in a physical shape or object. The Möbius strip presents itself as the likeliest form for the journey to take. Möbius strips incorporate characteristics of many aspects of the human existence and journey, such as the changes of perspective, the circular and linear directions of the path, and the undying curiosity of humanity for the nature of the journey. All answers lie on the journey; proper investigation of the human quest will only result in more questions, but then again that's the way life is.

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