Thursday, February 28, 2008



In my dream last night, Euclid had been a kind of sorcerer, and his Elements was not just a book of geometry but of wizardry. The forms he had constructed were pentagrams and hexes. I remember that it was important to have exactly the right instruments, and that people were searching for Euclid's own compass and straightedge, which had been made of some incorruptible gold alloy and placed in a green velvet lined box in a hidden drawer. In the dream, Newton was also a mage and his Principia was not just about forces and planets, but how to wield forces and take advantage of astrology.

It's easy to guess where it all came from: my dad's own drafting tools, the Golden Compass, a conversation I had a couple days ago about geometric arguments in Newton's work, the Baroque Trilogy, the whole Hermetic tradition. It also matches my intuition that magic couldn't work the way it does in most books, where a couple of words suffice for every spell. More complicated effects would require a more complicated description. It would be more like programming the universe than saying the right password.

3 comments:

mike said...

I think the quick incantation is kind of like firing a crossbow: it takes a lot of work to prepare things, to get the magic coiled and ready to strike, waiting for the trigger.

liz Ronneberg said...

This is amazing. I came across your page by searching google for Mathematical Art. I'm currently an art major, and have recently come up with the idea of making Mathematical art, and I find what you have posted really interesting (I especially like the bronze looking sculpture that you have posted below).
Did you do these yourself? If so, how did you go about doing this specific piece?
This whole genre is completely new to me, so I know pretty much nothing when it comes to these types of pieces.

D said...

The sculpture is by Vladimir Bulatov. You can find him here: http://www.bridgesmathart.org/art-exhibits/jmm08/bulatov.html