Thinking in circles

You know how once you notice something, once you start paying attention to it, you seem to see that thing everywhere? That’s the way it’s been with me and Venn diagrams lately.

Nerd, Geek, Dork or Dweeb?

I vaguely remember learning about Venn diagrams in middle school. I liked that I didn’t have to draw very well to make good diagrams. (It took me longer to catch on that thinking well wasn’t really necessary either, at least for the purpose of my class at the time.)

One thing I didn’t learn then was that Venn diagrams could be funny, like
Jessica Hagy’s Indexed, which she describes as “a little project that lets me make fun of some things and sense of others. I use it to think a little more relationally without resorting to doing actual math.”

My fifth grade teacher would not have appreciated her The world used to be flat post, but I do.

Jac Jemc’s Rejection Post-Acceptance by Other Magazine, but not Post-Withdrawal (eek!): Rejection 177 included a Venn diagram, an untentionally-but-sort-of-intentionally-funny one, I think. I like the big circle with “unconscious competence” in it.

Then I noticed another serious-type diagram, Bud Caddell’s how to be happy in business diagram. It displays wisdom in three overlapping circles: what we do well, what we can be paid to do, what we want to do. There’s a “hooray!” in the most overlapped space, but you need to do a fair amount of learning to get there. Of course.

There is no shortcut, one isn’t aiming for a bullseye with these things. They are diagrams after all, not targets.

Which is just as well, considering how Roxane Gay uses them in her story “Between Things” (at Pindeldyboz): “My hopes and dreams, fading” is in the middle of her most overlapped circles, most of the time. It’s a sharp, painful story that is made stronger by the six diagrams being part of it.

Which makes Venn diagrams art, even if you can’t draw.

I don’t quite understand how these diagrams keep capturing my attention, I just know they do. When I saw the mythical creatures one making the rounds a week or so ago, it made my day. It includes manticore, how marvelous is that?

Three circles, but infinite possibilities.

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