Duncker’s Candle Problem as applied below

The Transnational 3, 11/15, translated into German

Gestalt psychologists cite functional fixedness when we see an object for what it is and not for what it might be. Think back to when the wrapping paper was much more fun than the gift.

Consider the simple cardboard box white-coated examiners use to carry Duncker’s thumbtacks to the members of control group #3. If emptied, the box doubles as a tray for the candle that must be attached to a cork-board wall. For obvious reasons, no wax can drip on the expensive table below.

Thumbtacked to the cork, the box-cum-tray holds the candle and catches the wax, but the members of control group #3 only see only a box and fail the test before being told the table was obviously veneered.

This poem is an example of functional fixedness. The reader might quickly glean the form, the length and likely time commitment, before settling with ‘Yes, this is a poem…’ to a line-by-line conclusion, which might involve giving up by now.

The rarer reader wants their candle to stick to nothing, sees smokescreens everywhere, letters dripping paranoia, trusts neither the poem nor the poem’s function because nothing is what it is. This would be the reader who, unlike the members of control group #3, understands that inside every whole there might well be a greater than.