Six Degrees of Oscar Wilde
“The only thing worse than being talked about with all this graph theory is not being talked about.”
The Six Degrees of Oscar Wilde is a game which tries to connect every human on the planet to Oscar Wilde or his works. This is an application of the field of mathematics known as Graph Theory to works of literature and their authors.
It is based on the idea that I, for example, have written an Uncyclopedia article, which you have read, and you, in turn have an English teacher who had had coffee served to her by an arts major at a Starbuck's, whose shift supervisor read a short story from the book House of Pomegranates whilst sitting in the Men's room. Thus, even though I likely don't give a whit about Oscar Wilde, I am still separated by 4 degrees of seaparation from the writer. On average, all of mankind is separated in time and space from Oscar Wilde by an average of 6 degrees, and whether they have heard of him or not is irrelevant.
Oscar Wilde is the Center of the Universe
When you describe the world's human inhabitants in terms of their connection to Oscar Wilde, one is describing the universe of social, literary, and career connections between humans and the late Victorian writer. With Oscar Wilde being in the center of this discussion, he is thus in the center of this universe. The Universal set S of all connections leading to Oscar Wilde is known as the Wilde Universe.
Degrees of Separation Applies to both Things and People
If Oscar Wilde fed a dog an apple slice, and days later the dog wanders into and defecates on another property the remains of the apple. Centuries later, the neighbour owning the land who turns the sod to plant new grass will turn over a part of that soil once soiled by the dog fed by Wilde. I think I count at least 3 degrees of separation there: the dog has one degree of separation, the grass has two; and the owner turning the sod has the third.
If we wanted to be really radical about it, we can say that ultimately, our degree of separation from Wilde is 1 in both space and time, since it is likely we are breathing in and out the same oxygen and carbon dioxide molecules that were in Oscar Wilde's last dying breath. But since Wilde had been breathing all of his life, this means the chances of encountering the same oxygen and carbon dioxide molecules as breathed in and out each day by Wilde is probably pretty good, and we all breathe in the same air molecules as him on a daily basis.
How YOU Can Improve your NW
Not counting air molecules, the number of degrees by which you, a rock or a bird is separated from Oscar Wilde is known in Mathematics as the Wilde Number (NW). The only person allowed to have a NW of 0 is Oscar Wilde himself. Oscar Wilde's mother, friends, acquaintences, connections to publishers, academics, sex partners, and royalty, all have a NW of 1. Those not directly associated with Wilde are friends of his friends have an NW of 2. Friends of a friend of a friend of Wilde have an NW of 3. And on it goes. But the NW also applies to things. If you sat on the same chair that Wilde sat on over 100 years ago, that would bring your NW down to 1.
Here are some of the ways you can improve on your NW:
- Read an Uncyclopedia article with at least a Wilde quote in it. Yes, we all know that almost none of the quotes attributed on this website to Oscar Wilde are things he actually said or wrote. But just the fact that you see his name mentioned will also improve your NW.
- Visit the same house he lived in. Now, I would suppose that the people living there now wouldn't be too appreciative of you just showing up un-announced on their doorstep, so just tell them that you are trying to improve your Wilde Number. That ought to convince them. Otherwise, the author, Uncyclopedia, Wikia, and all business associates and their families, friends and relatives cannot be held responsible for any legal and criminal proceedings that might follow.
- Have lots of sex partners. Sooner or later you will find yourself in possession of an STD first spread by Wilde. If you find this out, you will find your NW has dropped off a cliff to the single digits. Just don't get menengitis. Even though it's not really an STD, it has the appeal of having taken Wilde's life and it would give you an especially low NW. But actually having the disease would really suck.
- Read something written by Oscar Wilde or attend a play. You may buy a Penguin edition of Dorian Gray from the bookstore. Even if all you do is go to the bathroom with the book, then rip pages out and wipe your ass with them, that will be enough to reduce your NW substantially. Indeed, you didn't just wipe your ass with any book; nay, you chose to wipe your ass with pages taken from one of Oscar Wilde's works. This would not make you the first person to be connected to Wilde through their anus. You can even burn it afterward (not just burning any book: same reasoning applies).