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Thoughts on Footnotes




Footnotes are a neglected entity of formatting and considered to be less important than, let's say, headlines. Have you ever wondered why a page has a foot, a head and in between a body, perhaps? The head of a page gets a line, the body the actual text, and the foot... well, the foot gets a note. A note at the foot of the page.
A page – an inanimate object – has hereby been anthropomorphed, so to speak, made into a human shape. It has been the urge of the scientific human being to understand its surroundings in accordance to itself. Early on, natural scientists have done their utmost to label their environment according to their (human) anthropomorphous self: a mountain has a foot, so does an oyster. It is understood that a foot is the connective tissue between the ground (whatever its shape) and some part disconnected from the ground. I truly believe that this concept simply proves the one-dimensionality of human thinking. Why do we imagine a mountain standing on the ground with its feet connecting it to the earth? Can the ground only be flat? Isn’t the mountain part of the ground and the earth? Do we have to separate mountain from the ground because we break a sweat trying to climb it, because we have to put an effort in in order to conquer it? Isn’t an oyster a holistic being inside its shell? Do we conceptually separate the edible meat from its surrounding hard shimmering because one part is edible and the other one isn’t? 
It seems to me that the process of anthropomorphing is not devoid of an act of subjugation. In making the world around us resemble our own shape we establish our authority, we step into a relationship with our surrounding in which we, clearly, wear the pants and know what’s best for our newly made minion.
A page, as has been established, has a foot. As writers, we have successfully subjugated white space. We created the white space to carry our words. A blank page of paper has no use, might not even have a head and a foot. It becomes, it is only once our domination has filled it with ink.
Yet, a page may not acutally exist. What about pages on a computer screen. What about this page? It may be an electronic document, therefore its existence is light, chemicals, electricity, pixels. 
Does the page I am typing now exist as an actual page? Quite honestly, I cannot touch it therefore it should not exist. Then again, is it really their tangibility that renders things and inanimate objects real? And doesn’t the fact that I could print those pages prove their “creatability”? Doesn’t the printer in some perverted form give birth to the pages (head first - how human!)? Doesn’t it give life to them? It must, because only then can a person point out the obvious foot of a page. 
And, over and over again, I feel sorry for the foot of the page being inked with remarks people consider inferior to the headlines. We care so much about the head, we have forgotton that the foot roots us to steady ground. Where does the connective tissue of the page lead to? Where does its foot stand? The mountain's foot stands on the earth; the oysters foot roots into the shell.
But what does the foot of the page connect to? To a bookshelf (if the page has found enough of its kind to form a book). To our brain, even? Why then, we really should respect and appreciate the foot of a page. It is patient, ready to give it all to carry the meaning of our words into the world, never demanding attention.

Go out and tickle the naked sole of a page's foot! Then close your eyes and listen to the sound of the page giggling!

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