Har de har har. You didn't finish it, did you?

Nope.com.

Quitter.

Straight up.

Say something nasty about it then so it isn't your fault.

I don't feel comfortable doing that about a logic book that won a Pulitzer. GEB is also one of my father's favorite books. I think. We had a copy leering at me out of the bookshelf for most of my childhood. When he chose to flirt somewhat uncomfortably with my special placement teacher in 8th grade, it was the subject of their flirtation. So there's that.

That means it's your fault.

Absolutely.

How far did you get, quitter?

Seventy-something whole pages.

That's barely through the introduction.

...which took me four days.

I seem to remember you bragging about polishing Stephen King's "It" in four days.

Yup.

Isn't that like a thousand pages?

Something like that.

So what you're saying is that you can cut down a thousand pages of pablum no problem but a few thousand words of genuine scientific thought sticks in your craw.

You could say that. Although I did Piketty in a week. Lorenz in four days. Judt in two weeks.

Soft sciences, cheater. Soft sciences.

I got an engineering degree and don't practice engineering. Surely that says more than my choice of reading material could.

So what was it, exactly, that made you tuck tail and run, quitter?

hooo fuck lemme count the ways.

THINGS THAT I HATE

1) Puns. Hofstadter can't write this book without using seven different witty meanings for words.

2) Precious language. Every third sentence starts with Now (comma) or Thus (comma) or But (comma). Thus, it bored the shit out of me. But, it also pissed me off. And, I had a real hard time seeing the message through the language.

3) Affectations. Get to the fucking point already. I give a shit about your turtle and achilles. Daniel Quinn's "Ishmael" was Lorenz's "On Aggression" starring a talking ape because, I guess, talking apes are cuter than Austrian nazi apologists. I hated Ishmael, too.

4) Puzzles. Of all kinds. In all things. Given a choice between solving a Rubik's Cube or playing with two legos, I'll play with those legos until the end of time. GEB is a collection of puzzles ("try it!") used to illustrate a point.

5) Pointlessness. This is a book about recursion and self-reference illustrated through recursion and self-reference to illustrate the recursion and self-reference of recursion and self-reference. For 700 pages. Except -

Okay, look. I used to dig the shit out of Escher. I even used to dig the shit out of Bach. I owned a couple woodcuts, in fact, and 3 versions of Toccata and Fugue D Moll. Until someone pointed out to me that Escher was technically a genius but he had nothing to say.

Which is an oversimplification, but there aren't a lot of Escher prints that are, well, about anything. They're clever and beautiful but trite. They're the mathematician's Thomas Kinkade.

And I'm reading for my own edification here - this is not increasing my penis size, augmenting my earnings potential or decreasing my tax burden. I'm doing this for fun and for my own edification. I'd like to learn something.

It took me 70 pages to learn that I wanted to learn nothing more from Douglas Hofstadter and I'm cool with that.

You're still going to be arrogant about it, though.

I'm gonna try not to. I recognize that there are probably wondrous truisms buried in those remaining 630 pages but I'd rather go to the dentist than find them, and that's a failing of mine, not of the author, not of the book.

But a person who hates puzzles, puns, trite language and pointless identities, I reckon, is never going to enjoy Godel Escher Bach.

__________________________________________________________________

NEXT UP:

Hellifino. I was kind of saving up for this one because I've been meaning to read it for decades. This has kind of spurred a crisis of faith because it's a bridge too far. Between Bl00's Reviews #1 and this I've read 38 books but have only reviewed six.

I prolly owe mk another one, since this was his recommend. I've been meaning to read some Eco.


nowaypablo:

I read a quarter of this book and understood nothing. It sits on my desk for girls to see and be impressed by. That doesn't work either, by the way. Fuck this book.

Also my idol/hero family friend is a straight-up intellectual machine, phd in physics and turned $200 and an illegal immigration turned into fat stackz in the bank with his own hedge fund to boot. He's the only one I know who even attempted to pretend enjoying this book, and says it's the greatest piece of literature he's read since Principia Mathematica.. Anyway fuck this book


posted by kleinbl00: 1061 days ago