Monday, January 25, 2010

An Eternal Golden Braid...

With all my talking, raving and discussing of this book, I thought it was time to share it with everyone else...

Perhaps one of the greatest books ever written, Douglas Hofstadter has created a masterpiece with Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. When you first pick this book up, you are immediately faced with its daunting 777 pages. All of them filled to the brim with scientific and technical words, diagrams, puzzles, art, mathematics, and even music. The author describes it as a "metaphorical fugue on minds and machines in the spirit of Lewis Carroll." but it is really much more. Many people have come to look at this book as the relationship between science, music, mathematics and art. But more importantly, the connections between these, the symmetry involved in going from one to the other, and finally, how humans are able to do what we do.

But when you really begin to dig into it, and begin to analyze everything that is being discussed, you realize that there is more than what meets the eye. With different analogies, he builds the groundwork for how the human brain, and thinking in general, has been developed, and the many attempts that technology has made to create a human brain. With his likening of the human brain to a colony of ants, he digs even deeper than that, and looks at how DNA defines who we are. He looks at how the brain interacts with the rest of the body, and how art, music, mathematics, and just about everything around us is interlaced and how closely connected everything is.

From the worldview point of view, he avoids the creation question all together. In fact, he even mentions at the end of one of his chapters that he could discuss at great length where we came from, but he chose not to do so, but rather to leave that up to the reader. Because of this, you can interpret this book either way. He has very carefully written this book, and while I tried to figure out which side he is coming from, I was unable to decide.

So, all that being said, I highly recommend this book to everyone, regardless of your area of focus, education level, interests, or anything else. It presents many interesting ideas and theories, and it is loaded with amazing selections of art and intriguing discussions between different characters.

1 comment:

  1. Nice reminder to actually finish reading that book! :D