If we seek an application of Mallarme's words to mathematics we find that we shall want to turn his paradox around.
Books > Mathematics.
We are led to say that mathematics does not consist of formulas, it consists of ideas.
Who but the most unregenerate formalist, asserting that mathematics is a meaningless game played with symbols, would deny it? What is paradoxical about the stateÂ ment is that symbols and formulas dominate the mathematical page, and so one is naturally led to equate mathematics with its formulas.
In intervals of relaxation from his art, the painter Degas used to try his hand at writing sonnets.
My poem won't come out, he said, and yet I'm full of excellent ideas.
What is platitudinous about this statement is that matheÂ matics, of course, consists of ideas.
LYTTON STRACHEY tells the following story.
1416 All That.
In desperation he ran to his friend Mallarme, who was a poet.
One day, while so engaged, he found that his inÂ spiration had run dry.
Books > Mathematics
3.1416 And All That
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