Tetrad Analysis: Number

With the recent discussion on sportsBabel about jersey numbers, I wanted to sample Marshall and Eric McLuhan's tetrad for "number" from Laws of Media: The New Science (p.173):

ENHANCES

-plurality, quantity

-fractioning figures out of their ground

-possessions

REVERSES

-mere graph, statistic, profile of the crowd

-kinetic line of the graph: the language of gesture

-pattern recognition

RETRIEVES

-zero, blank

-interval

-math, algebra: the hidden ground of number is letters

OBSOLESCES

-holism

-notches

-knots

-symbols

-tallies

It seems that there are a number of interesting tidbits here. That numbers facilitate or enhance the ability of a quantity to be possessed seems to be logically consistent with a capitalist ownership of professional sports teams and athletes that requires what Deleuze refers to as an "administrative numeration". In doing so, the holism of the athlete as individual is somehow fragmented and obsolesced.

What I find particularly interesting is what happens to the number when it is pushed to its logical limit and thus reverses. According to McLuhan père et fils, we come upon "profiles of a crowd" abstracted from statistical data sets. Is this not what I was pointing to when suggesting that the database-oriented pattern recognition of sabermetrics carries with it the whiff of eugenics?

(I know that I still haven't fully defended the use of the term eugenics here, but all in due time.)

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  1. sportsBabel » Administrative Numeration says:

    [...] on my ankle of a basketball with my university number [...]