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Gödel, Escher, Bach > Introduction: A Musico-Logical Offering

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message 1: by Erik (new)

Erik | 165 comments Wow, lots of good material in the introduction. I thought about skipping the introduction, but I'm glad I didn't.

The anecdote about Bach and the King is the kind of intro that gets me hooked, but I can see that might not be everyone's favorite type of thing.

Alot of major people and topics were introduced: Godel, Escher, Bach, Zeno, Turing, strange loops, self-reference, and things that are true but not provable.

I liked the sub-introduction that discussed why there are chapters and dialogs. The Escher art is a nice addition too. Who doesn't enjoy pictures in books?

The dialog was entertaining. I can see some meaning in there. Again, I expected to be able to skip the dialogs, but I'm glad I didn't.

message 2: by Steph (new)

Steph (spthomp) | 20 comments I wish I had two things: a 50x50 foot room and sabbatical freedom for 6 months. In such a case I could properly explore Dr. Hofstadter's book Gödel, Escher, Bach. I would use the walls as white-boards on which to place the ideas and concepts of the three great thinkers. The fourth will be a projection of the ideas presented in the book and their implications. The focal point will be the curiously carved blocks shown on the cover of my 1980 edition. The cover shows a different shadow cast by the block depending on which face the light is cast: G, E, or B. A representation of that block will hang in the center of the room projecting a shadow of a letter on each of three walls and a figure of a braid on the fourth.

The room will become entangled with strings and 3D artifacts connecting concepts from each of the three walls to the focal point and then more connections between the focal point to the "braid-wall" I imagine a kindergarten mobile-paper-and-strings extravaganza of representational creations attached to the G,E,B walls, hanging from the ceiling, and interconnected with colored string becoming interwoven as it converges on the focal point until it becomes an entangled rope projecting from the focal point to the Braid wall.

To take this structure to a higher level I would add features allowing one to see select connections through the confluence of ideas. The colored strings will be illuminate-able. Flip a switch or two to see certain connections glow in specific colors. Alternatively, the ceiling could be composed of separately movable sections so conceptual threads could be raised or lowered like props on a stage.

Now, does this show a frustration with a kindergarten teacher who didn't hang up my masterpieces 49 years ago? Or is it the fantasy of a financial analyst itching to allow creative chaos to explode out of strict ledger columns? Rather, it’s a desire to get away from the desk and computer and explore new ideas as we did as children: learning in 3D by moving through space, engaging our hands, arms, legs like when we ran about the yard playing tag. As children we had a lot of physical movement in our learning but as adults it is predominantly cerebral.

The value will not be in the completed structures in the room described. But like music the value will be in the creation or the performance. I have experience in music, including the ricercar and fantasy musical forms. They are Medieval and Renaissance predecessors to the Baroque fugue of Bach. I have little experience in the visual arts, since I did not spend much time learning to draw; even less experience in mathematical proofs or number theory.

The introduction of GEB introduces a lot of information about strange loops, paradoxes, and the convoluted structures of Bach's music, Escher's paintings, and Gödel’s theorems. There are numerous ideas hinted-at of being connected which prompt me to build a 3D representation to keep track of it all. GEB will be a close encounter and like the main character in the Spielberg film by that name, who sculpted a model of Devil's Tower, the convoluted structures Hofstadter introduces will best be experienced in three, and possibly four, dimensions.

message 3: by Brad (new)

Brad (bradrubin) | 264 comments Mod

Your vision reminds me of an author who described the kind of room everyone should aspire to have in their home. This exploratorium would be setup to explore art, music, science, math, etc. It was a broadening of the notion of a "study".

I have been racking my brain trying to remember where I read this, but I can't recall...

message 4: by Erik (new)

Erik | 165 comments Great imagery in Steph's comments.

I think the book cover art mentioned can be viewed at the wikipedia page:

message 5: by Steph (last edited Sep 06, 2010 07:42PM) (new)

Steph (spthomp) | 20 comments I should add about $15k to the wish list for buying all of the art, music, and science toys for the room!

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