October 3, 2014

A Brief Note on Birds

The essence of Mathematics resides in its freedom
— George Cantor

There seems to be a tighter bond between math and poetry than between man and the mind in his head. Well known poets who have long since dead such as John Keats when he wrote Lamia, or Edgar Allan Poe when he worked on Sonnet — To Science, or Walt Whitman when crafting When I heard the learn’d astronomer, do not seem to have recognized this tight bond. The same goes for those who are living and think that math and poetry are two things that have developed at opposite poles, and because of this cancel each other out. A slightly better view, even though it is still shallow, will say that math and poetry, or literature, are not enemies, but these two things are not on the same level, and it is literature that is superior to, that is more amazing than, math. This second view can also be felt in the fat thick novel of the most famous Japanese contemporary writer, Haruki Murakami.

 1Q84 1

In the first part of his novel IQ84 whose launch was greeted with much fanfare in Europe and America, Murakami wrote the following on mathematics and literature:

Where mathematics was a magnificent imaginary building, the world of story as represented by Dickens was like a deep, magical forest for Tengo. When mathematics stretched infinitely upward toward the heavens, the forest spread out beneath his gaze in silence, its dark, sturdy roots stretching deep into the earth. In the forest there were no maps, no numbered doorways…. Tengo began deliberately to put some distance between himself and the world of mathematics, and instead the forest of story began to exert a stronger pull on his heart… Someday he might be able to decipher the spell. That possibility would gently warm his heart from within.

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