Monday, April 02, 2007

Mathemagical Thinking and Romance

Douglas Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid is an amazing book.

When I finished reading it some 15 years ago, I couldn't comprehend how that book ever got written. Even if one person had such knowledge and depth of understanding, how could he express it all in a tightly organised book?

I find it difficult to write an acceptably lucid blog post, but in today's world it is possible to do amazing stuff by getting lots of smart people to collaborate on the project. See for example Uncyclopedia.

In a wonderful piece, The Year of Mathemagical Thinking, Lev Grossman of Time Magazine tell us about Hofstadter's new book I Am a Strange Loop:

In 1993 Hofstadter's beloved wife Carol died suddenly of a brain tumor at only 42, leaving him with two young children to care for. Hofstadter was overwhelmed by grief, and much of I Am a Strange Loop flows from his sense that Carol lives on in him--that the strange loop of her mind persists in his, a faint but real copy of her software running on his neural hardware, her tune played on his instrument. "It was that sense that the same thing was being felt inside her and inside me--that it wasn't two different feelings, it was the same feeling," Hofstadter says.


Carol and Douglas Hofstadter in a mutual nose touching, forming a (metaphorical) "strange loop" in July of 1987 in the Wallowa Mountains in Eastern Oregon.


Source: The Year of Mathemagical Thinking | TIME

It isn't a sweet, romantic thought, but rather something that goes right to the heart of these concepts: meaning, thought, message and awareness.

In Nature of Romance, and Scott Adams' confusion, I had blogged that romance is a cerebral activity because it is about exchange of messages between two people. It seems romance goes way beyond merely exchanging information with another process to running a copy of the target process on your own machine.

Did that give you a headache evening thinking about it? I told you being lucid isn't natural for me.

Might better understand the idea myself after reading Hofstadter's new book.


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