<http://multisenserealism.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/pound.jpg>

<http://multisenserealism.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/asterisk.jpg?w=595>

Part of my approach to making new sense of the universe involves indulging 
in meditations on unintentional symbolism. Any pattern that catches my 
attention is a potential subject for intuition voodoo. Usually it pays off 
eventually, even when it seems absurd at first.

In this case, I was thinking about the # and * symbols that were inserted 
into our visual culture obliquely, as extra buttons on the telephone which 
flanked the 0. Taking this as my cue to relate this to the multisense 
continuum, I compared the symbols graphically, etymologically, and 
semantically.

The pound sign (hash, hashtag, number sign) seems to me a dead ringer for 
the Western-mechanistic pole of the continuum, while the asterisk (star) 
fits quite nicely as the Oriental-animistic pole.

Here’s how it breaks down:

# – number sign, so quantitative and generic. The symbol is one of four 
lines crossing each other at right angles to yield nine implicit regions of 
space. The slant provides a suggestion of orientation – a forward lean that 
disambiguates spatial bias and implies, subliminally, an arrow of time.

In the age of Twitter and Instagram, the hashtag has become an important 
cultural influence. It is interesting with respect to mechanism in that it 
refers to accessing a machine’s sorting algorithms. It is a note to the 
network of how this term should be handled. We have appropriated this 
satirically so that we recapture it for our own entertainment, but also as 
a kind of show of affection for and familiarity with the technology.

In direct contrast, the * is am icon which is used to interrupt one level 
of attention to direct the reader to another level – a footnote. Instead of 
relating to numbers, the * is a wildcard that can be related to any string. 
It stands for “all that is preceded by or follows”. Contrary to the 
cellular modularity of #, the * is a mandala. It implies kaliedoscopic 
sensibility and fractal elaboration. It is a symbol of radiance, growth, 
life, unity, etc.

There’s some interesting threads that connect the * with mathematical terms 
such as Kleene closure <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kleene_star> (more 
commonly known as the free monoid construction). Just the words ‘free 
monoid construction’ ring in my ears as an echo of what I call solitrophy – 
the constructive progress of teleological unity…the creation and solution 
of problems.

Also the use of *asterisk* for heightened emphasis links it to the 
significance of euphoria or magnified feeling (and the euphoria that is 
associated with significance or magnified prestige/importance). Wikipedia 
mentions the use of # by editors to represent where space should be added 
on galley proofs. The use of * is, by contrast associated with repetition 
of a particular thing – a replication. This is a tenuous but deep 
connection to the origins of space and time in the difference between 
syntactic-public sense and semantic-private sense.

The name ‘pound sign’ seems to be fairly 
mysterious<http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2461>. 
It does not seem to be related conclusively to either the English currency 
or the Avoirdupois weight. Both references, however, have very tempting 
subliminal associations to the Western pole of empirical domination. On the 
other side, the name asterisk means ‘little star’, from Greek and Latin. I 
can read into that a reference to ‘as above, so below’, as the twinkling 
point of light reproduces in miniature that which is the grand solar source 
of life on Earth.

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