Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern

Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern

Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern

Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern

Excerpt

This book takes its title from the column I wrote in Scientific American between January 1981 and July 1983. In that two-and-a-half-year span, I produced 25 columns on quite a variety of topics. My choice of title deliberately left the focus of the column somewhat hazy, which was fine with me as well as with Scientific American. When Dennis Flanagan, the magazine's editor, wrote to me in mid-1980 to offer me the chance to write a column in that distinguished publication, he made it clear that what was desired was a bridge between the scientific and the literary viewpoints, something he pointed out Martin Gardner had always done, despite the ostensibly limiting title of his column, "Mathematical Games". Here is how Dennis put it in his letter:

I might emphasize the flexible nature of the department we have been calling "Mathematical Games". As you know, under this title, Martin has written a great deal that is neither mathematical nor game-like. Basically, "Mathematical Games" has been Martin's column to talk about anything under the sun that interests him. Indeed, in our view, the main import of the column has been to demonstrate that a modern intellectual can have a range of interests that are not confined by such words as "scientific" or "literary". We hope that whoever succeeds Martin will feel free to cover his own broad range of interests, which are unlikely to be identical to Martin's.

What a refreshingly open attitude! So I was being asked to be the successor to Martin Gardner--but not necessarily to continue the same column. Rather than filling the same role as Martin had, I would merely occupy the same physical spot in the magazine.

I had been offered a unique opportunity to say pretty much anything I wanted to say to a vast, ready-made audience, in a prestigious context. Carte blanche, in short. What more could I ask? Even so, I had to deliberate long and hard about whether to take it, because I did not consider myself primarily a writer, but a thinker and researcher, and time taken in writing would surely be time taken away from research. The conservative pathway, following what was known, would have been to say no, and just do research. The adventurous pathway, exploring the new opportunity and forsaking . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.