About the site

Why “prickles and goo”?

The phrase “prickles and goo” comes from an quote by Alan Watts, in his essay on “The Nature of Consciousness“:

There are basically two kinds of philosophy. One’s called prickles, the other’s called goo. And prickly people are precise, rigorous, logical. They like everything chopped up and clear. Goo people like it vague. For example, in physics, prickly people believe that the ultimate constituents of matter are particles. Goo people believe it’s waves. And in philosophy, prickly people are logical positivists, and goo people are idealists. And they’re always arguing with each other, but what they don’t realize is neither one can take his position without the other person. Because you wouldn’t know you advocated prickles unless there was someone advocating goo. You wouldn’t know what a prickle was unless you knew what a goo was. Because life isn’t either prickles or goo, it’s either gooey prickles or prickly goo.


Kevin Simler also has an excellent essay on this concept in relation to identity, over at Melting Asphalt!

You can watch part of Alan Watts’ lecture on “prickles and goo” as an animated short:

Why “fractalotl”?

The Tumblr linked to this site was started under the username “fractalotl”. It’s a portmanteau of the words “fractal” (a type of self-similar pattern that repeats at various scales) and “axolotl” (Ambystoma mexicanum, an aquatic salamander from Mexico that never quite grows up as expected). I had nothing to do with this OpenProcessing rendering of a fractalotl, but I think it’s adorable.

Site logistics, appearance, and credits

The site logo was modified from two images: “Ferrofluid 5” by Andrew Magill from Boulder, USA and “Soap film 5 by Umberto SalvagninBoth images are licensed under CC BY 2.0.