Saturday, August 15, 2009

Problems Encountered With Mathematical Poetry

Here is a perfect example of why mathematical poetry will have problems at least in the near future. In the blog entry copied bellow (and at this link) the author is complaining that the originator for a set of equations published in the brochure for the Biennale of Sydney is numerically illiterate. Curiously enough I think they should have said mathematically illiterate for numbers are not involved in these examples. That said, I am not sure that it is true that the originator was mathematically illiterate as well. The author claims that the expression, “Art = tyranny” is a false statement yet, historically there has been countless examples of art that has been inspired by or executed to express tyranny. A good example would be the artistic turmoil created around 1911 in Zurich Switzerland, for the entire Dada movement’s intention was to be tyrannical (Anti-Art)… as well as the copy cats that came after. Obviously the problem brought to question in this brochure is how one reads an equation. Is the equation to be read as poetry or science? Too many people think that an equation is automatically scientific in its expression. If this myopic attitude is left to continue, mathematics will be in denotative chains forever. When one reads poetry one searches for the proper context to give it meaning in relation to their life. One looks at the many facets of a poem to see what it is pointing to. “Art = tyranny” is a perfect expression for Dada, Punk or any other nihilist form or art.
Now to give our author the benefit of the doubt we could agree with him/her if the originator’s intention was scientific however, I can hardly see scientific intent in this expression even if it were meant to be.

It Don't Add Up
The Biennale of Sydney has put out an advance brochure that contains the two equations:

art + beauty + empathy = power

power – beauty – empathy = tyranny

Anyone with a primary school understanding of mathematics knows that if you solve these equations for the term ‘art’ you will discover that the claim being made is that

art = tyranny

If the Biennale of Sydney wants to communicate its ideas in the form of equations, perhaps it should run them by someone with a primary school level of numerical literacy before publishing them. Didn’t anyone in the accounts section twig that the Biennale of Sydney is spreading the message throughout the world that art equals tyranny???

Here is the mathematical solution:

art + beauty + empathy = power

art + empathy = power – beauty

art = power – beauty – empathy

given already that power – beauty – empathy = tyranny

then it follows

art = tyranny


Michael Lemke said...

Hello Kaz,

First, I have been a follower of Mathematical Poetry for sometime now. I love what you are doing with the site and hope you keep it up.

Second, with regard to "It Don't Add Up", did the Biennale of Sydney specify that what type of arithmetic they were using? It seems like everyone has assumed that they were using Peano arithmetic. Maybe someone should ask before calling them illiterate. Or, maybe they should stop, take a breath, and remember that language is for communicating ideas. It is clear what Biennale of Sydney meant.

and, here is one of my mathematical poems:

I what my finer tips to limit your lips
Though the void of infinitesimally small spaces
We don’t touch
In our unconnection we feel deeply connected
Wondering how teasing is more pleasing then touching
The sensuality
Of loneliness
Found in the company of each other

Data mining for differential equations that could map you and I to Sunday evening walks
After midday picnics that are seldom experienced, except though
Poems predating air conditioning
But, I am forced
To take you on trips which surpass thresholds,
if I am to give you the world?

So, we stroll, under the boardwalk of heaven
Watching your beauty make shooting stars fall from the night sky

And I, trying to keep up
Collect partitions of the sky
Intending on making a bouquet
That will cause roses to blush

I want to integrate the bell curves of your body with respect to your heart

We are one, like curves that ring
I want to hear you sing
Under your breath
Under sheets
That blanket darkness over

Kaz Maslanka said...

Thanks for dropping by Michael.

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