Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for the ‘Quote of the Day’ Category

Making it difficult

leave a comment »

It is not easy for the lay mind to realize the importance of symbolism in discussing the foundations of mathematics, and the explanation may perhaps seem strangely paradoxical. The fact is that symbolism is useful because it makes things difficult…What we wish to know is, what can be deduced from what. Now, in the beginnings, everything is self-evident; and it is very hard to see whether one self-evident proposition follows from another or not. Obviousness is always the enemy to correctness. Hence we invent some new and difficult symbolism, in which nothing seems obvious. Then we set up certain rules for operating on the symbols, and the whole thing becomes mechanical.

Bertrand Russell, “Mathematics and Metaphysicians”

Written by nevalalee

June 25, 2017 at 7:30 am

Thinking in tones

leave a comment »

I started to realize that the cover of the magazine was this blank space, this canvas, that had problems of its own, and I really started to enjoy shooting this cover…when Rolling Stone went to color. I had to change to color, too, and it was very scary. I was glad I came from a school of black and white because I learned to look at things in tones, highlights…

Remember, too, that Rolling Stone was printed on newsprint, rag print, and ink sinks into the magazine. So the only thing that would make it on the cover were pictures that had two or three colors, primary colors, a very posterlike effect. In a strange way, you almost had to make the color look like black and white. So I developed a very graphic use of form and color just to survive the printing process.

Annie Leibovitz, in an interview with David Felton

Written by nevalalee

June 24, 2017 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

leave a comment »

[My] many hours of physical effort as a youth also meant that my body, never frail but also initially not particularly strong, has lasted much longer than a sedentary occupation might have otherwise permitted. Above all, work and solitude, the two conditions of a mathematician’s best hours, became at an early age my frequent companions.

Robert P. Langlands, “Mathematical Retrospections”

Written by nevalalee

June 23, 2017 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

leave a comment »

The scholar is always studying, always ready and eager to learn. The scholar knows the connections of this specialty with the subject as a whole; he knows not only the technical details of his specialty, but its history and its present standing; he knows about the others who are working on it and how far they have reached. He knows the literature, and he trusts nobody; he himself examines the original paper. He acquires firsthand knowledge not only of its intellectual content, but also of the date of the work, the spelling of the author’s name, and the punctuation in the title; he insists on getting every detail of every reference absolutely straight. The scholar tries to be as broad as possible…These are the things, some of the things, that go to make up a pro.

Paul Halmos, I Want to Be a Mathematician

Written by nevalalee

June 22, 2017 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

leave a comment »

In his essay “The Art of Fiction,” [Henry] James speaks of the “immense sensibility…that takes to itself the faintest hints of life…and converts the very pulses of the air into revelations.” He celebrates the novelist’s intuitive faculty “to guess the unseen from the seen,” but the word guess may be inadequate, for it is a power, I think, generated by the very discipline to which the writer is committed. The discipline itself is empowering, so that a sentence spun from the imagination confers on the writer a degree of perception or acuity or heightened awareness that a sentence composed with the strictest attention to fact does not.

E.L. Doctorow, Creationists

Written by nevalalee

June 21, 2017 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

leave a comment »

I think a lot about the shape of the composition on the canvas and how the whole thing sits. There are specific formats I work on and they allow me to do different things, for instance, place the head in a space or position it a certain way. Or I decide how much of the body, how much information, is there: there’s the standing figure, the long canvas, and then there is this slightly-off square. I’ve never managed to work on a perfect square. Every working day starts with a different problem or a different set of problems, or maybe it’s a series of works that all address a similar problem. There are things that recur, a language develops there.

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, in an interview with Naomi Beckwith

Written by nevalalee

June 20, 2017 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

with one comment

My greatest concern was what to call [the uncertainty function]. I thought of calling it “information,” but the word was overly used, so I decided to call it “uncertainty.” When I discussed it with John von Neumann, he had a better idea. Von Neumann told me, “You should call it entropy, for two reasons. In the first place your uncertainty function has been used in statistical mechanics under that name, so it already has a name. In the second place, and more important, no one really knows what entropy really is, so in a debate you will always have the advantage.”

Claude Shannon, to Scientific American

Written by nevalalee

June 19, 2017 at 7:30 am

%d bloggers like this: