468: Fetishes

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 Fetishes Title text: They eventually resolved this self-reference, but Cantor's 'everything-in-the-fetish-book-twice' parties finally sunk the idea.

Explanation

Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead co-wrote the Principia Mathematica, with the intention of cataloging all of mathematics and ridding it of contradiction and self-reference. Kurt Gödel later showed that such a system is impossible, and that any system of axioms (complex enough to represent arithmetic) is incomplete.

Here, Russell and Whitehead are perusing a more salacious, but no less comprehensive, task: compiling a list of all sexual fetishes. When Gödel says he likes "anything not on your list," Russel and Whitehead have no way to complete their list. Whatever they leave off should be on the list, as long as it's off the list. This paradox is essentially the same as the one that doomed the Principia.

In the title text, Georg Cantor is the inventor of set theory. If you have a fetish for doing everything in the book twice, then that belongs in the book, which you then have to do once more, which adds another item to the book ad infinitum. Russel and Whitehead finally acknowledge their defeat.

There is a fetish roadmap by Katharine Gates, author of Deviant Desires and DeviantDesires.com.

An earlier comic also refers to Kurt Gödel: 24: Godel, Escher, Kurt Halsey.

Transcript

[Caption above the panel:]
Author Katharine Gates recently attempted to make a chart of all sexual fetishes.
[Russel, with long hair, and Whitehead are standing with Gödel (the last two are both Cueball-like), Russel holding a clipboard and smoking a pipe.]
Russel: Hey, Gödel — we're compiling a comprehensive list of fetishes. What turns you on?
Gödel: Anything not on your list.
Russel: Uh…hm.

Discussion

I should point out that [1] is "The set of all sets that do not contain themselves"- if it does not contain itself, then it must contain itself; but since it now contains itself, it cannot. Although this doesn't seem to have an obvious parallel in the comic, Russell probably should've known better than to create a comprehensive list of anything. --Someone Else 37 (talk) 04:17, 14 January 2014 (UTC)