Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Posts Tagged ‘Balthasar van der Pol

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There surely must be more cogent reasons than being merely amusing for this or that system to deserve investigation and study. For one, there are aesthetic reasons, and here I am reminded of something Balthasar van der Pol, a great Dutch scientist and engineer who was also a fine musician, remarked to me about the music of Bach. “It is great,” he said, “because it is inevitable and yet surprising.” I have often thought about this lovely epigram in connection with mathematics and am convinced that, with some caution, it is applicable. The inevitability is, in many cases, provided by logic alone, but the element of surprise must come from an insight outside the rigid confines of logic.

Mark Kac, Enigmas of Chance

Written by nevalalee

June 15, 2017 at 7:30 am

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