Well, we’re off and running (pun intended). I hope you are beginning to see that this book is about much more than the intersection of mathematics, art, and music.

Current Assignment: Monday, September 14
Read: Three-Part Invention and Chapter I: The MU-puzzle
Listen: The Three-Part Ricercar, from the Musical Offering (BWV 1079), introduces the King’s theme (which appears in nearly every piece of the Musical Offering) and the fugue style in general.

Discussion Questions:
(Three-Part Invention)

  1. What story is recreated in this dialogue?
  2. In what ways is this dialogue self-referential?
  3. Is there any significance in positioning the Tortoise upwind of Achilles?

Escher's Mobius Strip

(The MU-Puzzle)

  1. What are some more differences between people and machines? Hofstadter talks a lot about observing patterns, but who is doing the observing and from where?
  2. Do you think that being able to jump out of a task and look for patterns is an inherent property of intelligence? What do you think of the following?

    Of course, there are cases where only a rare individual will have the vision to perceive a system which governs many people’ lives, a system which had never before even been recognized as a system; then such people often devote their lives to convincing other people that the system really is there, and that it ought to be exited from! (pp. 37)

    What, or who, does this make you think of?

  3. Hofstadter calls the U-Mode a “Zen way of approaching things.” (pp. 39) What does this mean?
  4. Is the notion of “truth” different for a theorem than an axiom?

What other rabbit trails we can pursue?

Up Next: For Thursday, September 17
Read: Two-Part Invention and Chapter II: Meaning and Form in Mathematics
Listen: Two-Part Invention in C major (BWV 772)