I bought a book for entertainment 4 months ago. It was the first of its kind that I'd bought in a year. I know, it hardly seems geeky. Economic times being what they are and necessity being the mother of all tightened belts it is what it is. Its been two years since I've bought a book to expand my mind. Again, out of necessity. But a footnote here: when I had the money I bought and read 4-8 books a week, taking a break every 6 or 8 weeks to let the brain swelling go down ;) So when I was in Borders and couldn't find the music I was looking for, I bought a book for the most irrational reason ever: I liked the cover and the author's last name.
The book is Goedel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid or GEB for short. I'm not sure but I think that I read some of this when I was in high school. Much of it went over my head then. And much of it does now. But I like the puzzle that is the front of the book, the font types chosen and the author's last name..... Hofstadter. Hello, roomie.
The author tags it as "a metaphorical fugue on minds and machines in the spirit of Lewis Carroll."
I LOVE LEWIS CARROLL!!!!!!!!!!!! Sometimes he gives me a headache with all the talk that turns round on itself. But he has given me some great out of context one-liners that I use to keep the Higher Ups off balance. I'm evil like that. But if it helps me to understand things better than I do its worth a few headaches.
For instance, while I love music and I base my enjoyment of the art on how the voice and the notes make me feel, I know nothing of its technical construction. This is a point of contention for me now as it seems that understanding how music goes together is one of the things that will help us understand how information is processed. It is over simplistic to say the very least. But in essence this tome is the first step in understanding how our brains process information and what information it choses to process which in turn will help us understand the limitations of a computer program. It would seem a Soongian neural net is not impossible just, as yet, unreachable. The author, so far as I have read, seems to feel that math, music and art hold the keys to understanding the biology of nueral transmission because, as is especially true in music and art, of a factor of unpredictability related to self-reference. He also says that mathematical logic is not as straight forward as we all want to believe... Mobius strips with ranch anyone?
You have a headache? Sheesh! I'm the one reading the blasted thing. Bought a 12 color set of highlighters too. Why? Well aside from hitting the key points of his thesis in yellow so that I can easily find the things that have punched my ticket for a particular train of thought; it would seem that there are Quoteables (in violet), Points of Interest tangential to the thesis (in salmon), things that will require Pondering (red), specifics in the field of Physics (lime), Art things I didn't know (purple), Music facts (blue) and Characters historic and otherwise I'd never heard of (turquioise) that will require a seperate exploration.
My first thought is that this is going to be the sum of a 4 year Masters degree crammed into 742 pages of text, an 11 page Bibliography and 18 pages of Index besides the daunting outline in the beginning of the book. Yikes! But here's the thing. I don't HAVE to read this. I want to read this. One of the first things that I read is a quote from a poet named Russell Edson that calls us "teetering bulbs of dread and dream". Rythmically it is similar to the STNG "ugly bags of mostly water" description from a sentient crystaline life form found in a mining colony. And it is just as evocative. But it is the most accurate description of the human emotional condition. So I am hooked. This promises to be less dry than 4 years of lectures or 5 minutes with Sheldon on why his seat is his seat. And, as I am further along now, he seems to be saying what I have been thinking all along: nothing is going to be as rigid and regimented as we want it to be. Taming Chaos is an illusion.
Oops... Type A people around the world just had minor strokes. Sorry.