Friday, December 19, 2014

Colorful Tale

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 11:30 AM

Wikipedia on a tale about one Hippasus of Metapontum,
who supposedly was drowned by Pythagoreans for his
discovery of irrational numbers and/or of the dodecahedron —

"In the hands of modern writers this combination of vague
ancient reports and modern guesswork has sometimes
evolved into a much more emphatic and colourful tale."

See, for instance, a tale told by the late Carl Sagan,
who was bitterly anti-Pythagorean (and anti-Platonic):

IMAGE- Sagan in 'Cosmos' on the Pythagoreans

For a related colorful tale, see "Patrick Blackburn" in this journal.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Lost Cornerstone

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:29 AM

This post was suggested by this morning's New York Times  story on the missing cornerstone of St. Patrick's Cathedral and by the recent design for an official T-shirt celebrating Harvard's 375th anniversary—


In Harvard's case, the missing piece beneath the cathedral-like spire* is the VERITAS on the college shield.

Possible sources for a shield image representing VERITAS—

1. "Patrick Blackburn" in this journal, which might be combined with

2. Reflections on Kurt Gödel ** by Hao Wang, Chapter 9, "To Fit All the Parts Together"—

"The metaphor of fitting parts together readily suggests
  the concrete image of solving a picture puzzle…." (p. 243)

Or the image of a Wang tiles puzzle.

A graphic image, colorful but garish, that summarizes these two sources—


  Shield with matching Wang tiles

* The Lowell House bell tower
** MIT Press, first published in 1987

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Patterns in the Carpets

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:06 PM

"I know no writing— except perhaps Henry James's introductory essays— which conveys so clearly and with such an absence of fuss the excitement of the creative artist."

— Graham Greene on A Mathematician's Apology , review in The Spectator , 20 December 1940

"The mere quality and play of an ironic consciousness in the designer left wholly alone, amid a chattering unperceiving world, with the thing he has most wanted to do, with the design more or less realised— some effectual glimpse of that might, by itself, for instance, reward one's experiment."

— Henry James, "Prefaces to the New York Edition," in The Figure in the Carpet and Other Stories, Penguin Books, 1986, with introduction and notes by Frank Kermode

"What? You've found a pattern?"

— Greg Egan, "Wang's Carpets"

See also Notes on Mathematics and Narrative, with its discussion of the tiles of the creative artist Patrick Blackburn in the recent (August 2010) Pythagorean novel The Thousand  and the discussion of Wang tiles in Modal Logic,  a  book from November 2002 whose author also happens to be named Patrick Blackburn.

(Credit for the Greene bibliographic information is due to Janelle Robyn Humphreys, whose doctoral thesis, Shadows of Another Dimension, was published in 2009 by the University of Wollongong.)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

At Play in the Field

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:24 AM

For Bent Larsen, Danish chess Grandmaster, who died on Thursday, September 9, 2010—


See also "Patrick Blackburn, meet Gideon Summerfield" in Building a Mystery.

"As you read, watch for patterns." — Nabokov

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:48 PM

A film director's obituary in today's New York Times

"Mr. Donner broke through as a director in 1963 with a low-budget black-and-white film of Harold Pinter’s play 'The Caretaker,' with Alan Bates, Donald Pleasence and Robert Shaw. Since he couldn’t find traditional backing for the film, a group of well-wishers that included Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Peter Sellers and Noël Coward financed it."

   A lower-budget version:



All work and no play 

makes Jack a dull boy.


See also "Patrick Blackburn, meet Gideon Summerfield" in Building a Mystery.

Building a Mystery

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 2:02 PM

Notes on Mathematics and Narrative, continued

Patrick Blackburn, meet Gideon Summerfield…

From a summary of a politically correct 1995 feminist detective novel about quilts, A Piece of Justice

The story deals with “one Gideon Summerfield, deceased.” Summerfield, a former tutor at (the fictional) St. Agatha’s College, Cambridge University, “is about to become the recipient of the Waymark prize. This prize is awarded in Mathematics and has the same prestige as the Nobel. Summerfield had a rather lackluster career at St. Agatha’s, with the exception of one remarkable result that he obtained. It is for this result that he is being awarded the prize, albeit posthumously.”  Someone is apparently trying to prevent a biography of Summerfield from being published.

The following page contains a critical part of the solution to the mystery:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06B/PieceOfJustice138.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Compare and contrast with an episode from the resume of a real  Gideon Summerfield

Head of Strategy, Designer City (May 1999 — January 2002)

Secured Web agency business from new and existing clients with compelling digital media strategies and oversaw delivery of creative, production and technical teams…. Clients included… Greenfingers  and Lord of the Dance .

For material related to Greenfingers  and Lord of the Dance , see Castle Kennedy Gardens at Wicker Man  Locations.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Burning Patrick —

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 11:15 AM

Notes on Mathematics and Narrative


  1. The Burning Man in Bester's classic The Stars My Destination,
  2. The not-so-classic Hitler Plans Burning Man, and
  3. The cult film The Wicker Man

Commentary on The Wicker Man

Originally The Wicker Man  was not well-received by critics in the UK. It was considered
to be bizarre, disturbing, and uncomfortable, with the hasty editing making the story confusing
and out of order…. Today this movie is considered a cult classic and has been called
the “Citizen Kane  of horror films” by some reviewers. How did this film become a cult classic?

Real estate motto— Location, Location, Location.

Illustration— The fire leap scene from Wicker Man, filmed at Castle Kennedy


From August 27

In today's New York Times, Michiko Kakutani reviews a summer thriller
by Kevin Guilfoile.  The Thousand  is in the manner of Dan Brown's
2003 The Da Vinci Code  or of Katherine Neville's 1988 The Eight .

From the review—

What connects these disparate events, it turns out, is a sinister organization
called the Thousand, made up of followers of the ancient Greek mathematician
and philosopher Pythagoras (yes, the same Pythagoras associated with
the triangle theorem that we learned in school).

As Mr. Guilfoile describes it, this organization is part Skull and Bones,
part Masonic lodge, part something much more twisted and nefarious….

The plot involves, in part,

… an eccentric artist’s mysterious masterwork, made up of thousands of
individually painted tiles that may cohere into an important message….

Not unlike the tiles in the Diamond Theory cover (see yesterday's post)
or, more aptly, the entries in this journal.

A brief prequel to the above dialogue—


In lieu of songs, here is a passage by Patrick Blackburn
more relevant to the art of The Thousand


See also the pagan fire leaping in Dancing at Lughnasa.

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