Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Portrait of the Mathematician as a Young Artist

A grand synthesis of Pragmatism, Wittgenstein's meaning-is-use, and his own native, formalist mathematical leanings was his Last Stand, in a long career often marked by a succession of radical, often geometrically inspired reinterpretations of classical notions, which while facing stiff resistance initially, gained slow influence over time. In a rare interview, he called himself a "late bloomer", with each decade of his life, more accomplished than the last, his oeuvre progressively acquiring the warm glow of what is now his signature mathematics-is-study-of-forms approach. By the end, he was described to be increasingly moody and aloof - given to blank stares, idiosyncratic pronouncements and unsubstantiated claims - on platforms both technical and lay, about the invisible, unobservable mathematical forms he dubbed "connection gauges"; followed by denouncements of a "cavalier, merely bijective" approach he attributed to others. 

His followers - a tiny cult of star struck graduate students and young, ambitious academics - breathed a collective sigh of relief when he began being professionally handled by his psychiatrist children, who, among other things, firmly believed in the therapeutic effects of thinly fictionalized modes of alternative self expression, particularly obituaristic.

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