Maths is art!
One of the striking things that has come up this week are the links with the arts that academics use to talk about or practice their discipline or research. Law is like a chain novel. Physicists build pictures or sculptures (they call them models) to describe that which is invisible – the very small or the incomprehensibly big. Economists look for patterns in human behaviour from which they deduce meaning – just like artists (and audiences). In the Business School we met accountants who told us that accounting is really about telling a story in a particular way to reveal a particular kind of truth. We also heard from the behavioural scientists about the stories we tell ourselves to explain our own behaviour and how we can believe these to be true even when they are clearly not – I need to buy this house even though I know I cannot afford it…
Then we met the mathematicians.
Amongst other things we had a couple of simple (well, simple for them I guess) maths lectures… they were incredible. Maths has an inherent natural beauty of course, but it was more than that. The proposition, the delivery, the sense of wonder (us and them), the intellectual elegance and the narrative that a mathematician will lead you through – it was not just like art, the experience of watching it was similar (on every level: physiological, psychological, intellectual and emotional) to watching a brilliant piece of theatre. It was thrilling. It was fascinating. It was funny. It was puzzling and thought provoking. It was about me and my view of the world. It was exciting. I would have given it 5 stars! It wasn’t like experiencing a work of art; it was the same. It was art.