Gatsby Starts Over:
Cleaning Up the
St. Olaf Mess
St. Olaf College,
Northfield, Minnesota --
From The MSCS Mess
(Dept. of Mathematics, Statistics,
and Computer Science)
November 14, 2008
Volume 37, Number 9--
Math Film Festival 2008 Background:
The MSCS Department is sponsoring the second of two film-discussion evenings this Wednesday, November 19. Come to RNS 390 at 7:00 PM to see watch [sic] two short [sic]-- Whatchu Know 'bout Math and Just a Finite Simple Group of Order Two-- and our feature film, Good Will Hunting. Will Hunting is a mathematical genius who's living a rough life in South Boston, while being employed at a prestigious college in Boston, he's [sic] discovered by a Fields Medal winning mathematics Professor [sic] who eventually tries to get Will to turn his life around but becomes haunted by his own professional inadequacies when compared with Will. Professor Garrett will explain the “impossible problem” and its solution after the film.
Log24 entries of Wednesday, November 19, the day "Good Will Hunting" was shown:
Damnation Morning revisited and
Mathematics and Narrative continued
From a story
in the November 21 Chronicle of Higher Education
on a recent St. Olaf College
reading of Paradise Lost
"Of man's first disobedience,
and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree,
whose mortal taste
Brought death into the World,
and all our woe....
A red apple made the rounds,
each reader tempting the next."
"It's still the same old story...."
-- Song lyric
The Great Gatsby, Chapter 6:
"An instinct toward his future glory had led him, some months before, to the small Lutheran college of St. Olaf in southern Minnesota. He stayed there two weeks, dismayed at its ferocious indifference to the drums of his destiny, to destiny itself, and despising the janitor’s work with which he was to pay his way through."
There is a link to an article on St. Olaf College in Arts & Letters Daily today:
"John Milton, boring? Paradise Lost has a little bit of something for everybody. Hot sex! Hellfire! Some damned good poetry, too..." more»
The "more" link is to The Chronicle of Higher Education.
For related material on Paradise Lost and higher education, see Mathematics and Narrative.
|Sympathy for Baird Bryant|
"Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game"
-- The Rolling Stones
"'Don't you want to
hear him call your name
when you're standing
at the pearly gates?'
I told the Preacher 'Yes, I do,
but I hope he don't call today.'"
-- Kenny Chesney, song at the CMA Awards on Wednesday, November 12, quoted here at 9:00 AM on Thursday, Novermber 13
LA Times obituary for the experienced bohemian writer and filmmaker Baird Bryant, who died at 80 on Thursday, November 13. Bryant filmed parts of "Easy Rider" in 1968 and of the Altamont concert in 1969. He was apparently a member of the Harvard College Class of 1950.
A more complete account of Bryant's life
Thirty references to the Devil in a book by Bryant
Solace With Interruptions
(Log24 entries for November 12, 13, and 14 -- the day before Bryant's death, the day of his death, and the day after)
From the previous entry
: "If it’s a seamless whole you want,
pray to Apollo, who sets the limits
within which such a work can exist."
-- Margaret Atwood,
author of Cat's EyeHappy birthday
to the lateEugene Wigner
... and a belated
to Paul Newman:
"The laws of nature permit us to foresee events on the basis of the knowledge of other events; the principles of invariance
should permit us to establish new correlations between events, on the basis of the knowledge of established correlations between events. This is exactly what they do."
-- Eugene Wigner, Nobel Prize Lecture
, December 12, 1963
Art and Lies
Observations suggested by an article on author Lewis Hyde-- "What is Art For?"-- in today's New York Times Magazine:
Margaret Atwood (pdf) on Lewis Hyde's
Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art --
"Trickster," says Hyde, "feels no anxiety when he deceives.... He... can tell his lies with creative abandon, charm, playfulness, and by that affirm the pleasures of fabulation." (71) As Hyde says, "... almost everything that can be said about psychopaths can also be said about tricksters," (158), although the reverse is not the case. "Trickster is among other things the gatekeeper who opens the door into the next world; those who mistake him for a psychopath never even know such a door exists." (159)
What is "the next world"? It might be the Underworld....
The pleasures of fabulation, the charming and playful lie-- this line of thought leads Hyde to the last link in his subtitle, the connection of the trickster to art. Hyde reminds us that the wall between the artist and that American favourite son, the con-artist, can be a thin one indeed; that craft and crafty rub shoulders; and that the words artifice, artifact, articulation and art all come from the same ancient root, a word meaning to join, to fit, and to make. (254) If it’s a seamless whole you want, pray to Apollo, who sets the limits within which such a work can exist. Tricksters, however, stand where the door swings open on its hinges and the horizon expands: they operate where things are joined together, and thus can also come apart.
|"What happened to that... cube?"|
Apollinax laughed until his eyes teared. "I'll give you a hint, my dear. Perhaps it slid off into a higher dimension."
"Are you pulling my leg?"
"I wish I were," he sighed. "The fourth dimension, as you know, is an extension along a fourth coordinate perpendicular to the three coordinates of three-dimensional space. Now consider a cube. It has four main diagonals, each running from one corner through the cube's center to the opposite corner. Because of the cube's symmetry, each diagonal is clearly at right angles to the other three. So why shouldn't a cube, if it feels like it, slide along a fourth coordinate?"
-- "Mr. Apollinax Visits New York," by Martin Gardner, Scientific American, May 1961, reprinted in The Night is Large