Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity
Is infinity a valid mathematical property or a meanin...more
I contenuti mi hanno lasciato perplessa: nichilismo estremo, ovvero rappresentazione fotografica di certo genere d'umanità, ma siamo davvero tutti (potenzialmente) così?
E poi: non è stancante, ripetitivo e alla fine sterile riproporci ad libitum date genie, dati modi essendi? L'arte non è anche innovazione e superamento oltre che, talvolta, decostruzione? Una scrittura senza speranza è disutile, è superflua, è autoreferenziale, è morta(le).
Sono molto diversi uno dall'altro, sia come ambientazione, sia come personaggi coinvolti, sia per il modo con cui le storie si sviluppano ed arrivano alla propria conclusione.
Il primo porta il titolo di Per fortuna il funzionario commerciale sapeva fare il massaggio cardiaco e parla di due dirigenti d'azienda ch...more
So I was reasonably disposed to like this book and was looking forward to reading it. Sadly, it turns out that this was a case where D...more
This is the first DFW book I've ever read, which may have some impact on my reception of it (Although, come to think of it, there is a DFW article in The New Kings of Nonfiction, which I didn't really have problems with.). I had a friend once, however, (actua...more
In Math, Better Explained, Kalid Azad says "Children are expected to cope with mathematics that drove educated adults insane hundreds of years ago." Amusing, true, and yet no one really explained the insanity the way D...more
Ostensibly the book's about the history of infinity, which sounds pretty interesting, but what it's really about the history of how infinity as a concept has been treated in mathematics — which is still a fairly interesting-sounding topic, except it turns out that for it to make sense you have to understand a lot of pr...more
I suspect the criticism is largely unwarranted - DFW provides enough forewarning that he has "dumbed down" much of the math in order to bridge the gap to the difficult and abstract math he is describing. Doing so comes with the sacrifice of some accuracy....more
Andy left the study of mathematics after several months teaching remedial algebra in a public school on Chicago’s South...more
First of all, the beautiful beautiful words! I have just finished something (else: Chomsky) where I crossed out acres of text to chop it down to syntactic ligaments, only. You can't do that with THIS book! Every Word Matters; it is a thing of beauty.
However, now half way through the book, I am unable to appreciate a big part of the thesis, which has to do with the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus which takes an integral by limiting a little slice of incremental area do...more
'Poets do not go mad; but chess players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom. I am not attacking logic: I only sy that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination.' - G.K. Chesterton, 6
The Mentally Ill Mathematician seems now in some ways to be what the Knight Errant, Mortified Saint, Tortured Artist, and Mad Scientist have been for other eras: sort of our Prometheus, the one who goes to forbidden places and returns with gifts we all can use but he alon...more
Proof: This was good. Real good. It's been a while that I've read a book that was as much as a page-turner as this one. Mind you, I'm basically the ideal audience for this: a) I love math b) I'm good at math c) I don't know much about the history of math. And here's a history of math written by everyone's favorite late contemporary author!
Specifically, this is a history of math with regards to the concept of infinity. Oftentimes it's the histories with through...more
DFW's at his best when he's talking about the philosophy (or is it that I'm out of my depth there...), but his mathematics is in places disconcertingly shaky, and he seems too ready to abandon mathematical carefulness for the sake of literary fireworks. And yes, I find his so-called "conversational"...more
Did I learn stuff? Yes. Did I understand everything I read...more
Book review in one tweet
If you read *Infinite Jest* and you loved all the endnotes about math, then this is the book for you. #ManyParadoxesAlsoIncluded
"If this still fails to make the basic idea clear, you're asked to please just eat it (the idea) because this is the best we can do." - p. 271
Everything and More traces the development of the mathematical concept of infinity, from the somewhat incomprehensible work of really smart Greek guys to the slightly more incomprehe...more
This book addresses three related enthusiasms: for mathematics itself, for math history (the lives of the mathematicians & the historical chain of deduction that gave us the math of today) and for DFW's high school math teacher (who sounds totally amazing). A book about any one of these might be more straightforward but DFW conflates the three in a breezy, entertaining mess. The operating concept is the history of infinity as a topic that has driven mathemati...more
Anyway, I figured I would read a bit of Everything and More, see what it's like, and skim through the rest when the math got too hairy....more
The book tries to present its complex subject matter in a conversat...more
I would love to recommend this book to more people, because it's got that characteristic DFW apprehension of complexity and truth to it, plus the wide ranging references to everything. However, I knew the reals vs. the integers vs. a hole in the ground going in, and I still don't understand his description of Cantor's proof of the existence of transfinite numbers.
Anyway, I ate this book up, whereas I still...more