Life, A User’s Manual, Georges Perec

… the book opens up with an exposition on the nature of a puzzle, more specifically, the relation of the pieces to the whole and the whole to the pieces…

… a wooden jigsaw puzzle – is not a sum of elements to be distinguished from each other and analysed discretely, but a pattern, that is to say a form, a structure: the element’s existence does not precede the existence of the whole, it comes neither before nor after it, for the parts do not determine the pattern, but the pattern determines the parts: knowledge of the pattern and of its laws, of the set and its structure, could not possibly be derived from discrete knowledge of the elements that compose it.1

… this reminds me of the concept of holons… the idea of self contained, self sufficient entities being also part of a greater whole that relies on the sum of its parts for its ability to be… in the puzzle example above, the parts can exist on their own as objects in and of themselves, but we recognize them immediately as part of something bigger that can be read as a sum of the parts… in the holon concept, the parts can be extracted and have the ability to exist without the whole, but the whole cannot exist without the parts… and in the case of a puzzle, if parts are missing the whole is damaged… incapable of moving forward with its full state of being…

… in reading about holons, i find out that the term was coined by Arthur Koestler in his book The Ghost in the Machine

… i am made aware that puzzles can be wooden and hand cut, which i imagine is expensive… i do a search and quickly find a maker in NY… these are puzzles for the rich… the cheapest one is $900, the most expensive, $3200… i imagine they are exquisite, but really, aren’t there better things to spend money on?… i imagine it a sign that one has too much money…


  1. Perec, Georges, Life, a User’s Manual, Kindle Edition, Location 127 [return]