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Ohenrypacey

It's Just, Like, My Opinion, Man.

A way for me to remember what I've read, when I've read it, and what I thought about it at the time.

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1914-1918: The History of the First World War
David Stevenson
e: the Story of a Number
Eli Maor

Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth

Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth - Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos H. Papadimitriou, Alecos Papadatos, Annie Di Donna Disappointed is the one word I would use to describe my experience with this book. It's hefty, and, on first glance, appears to be rather substantial; but the fact is, it ends up being a short story (perhaps it would fill 50 pages of conventional text) peppered mostly with illustrations of Bertrand Russell lighting a pipe.I am familiar with this story. I would guess that most readers interested enough in the characters (Russell, Wittgenstein, Godel) would be as well. The authors clearly state early on that Logicomix is not meant to be "Logic for Dummies", and it isn't; but its not much else either.The essence of the book (caution spoilers) is that Bertrand Russell, celebrated mathematician and philosopher and noted pacifist, is confronted, early in the 2nd World War, by isolationists hoping to have their position validated by a sound logical argument. Russell proceeds to tell them of his epic search for a language of truth (mathematics) to lay a firm foundation for expressing things in an objective universe. The authors, who liberally inject themselves into the narrative, then begin an argument over whether madness (a pervading theme in both Russell's life and his professional associations) is a product of logic or a symptom of the search for it.At this point i would have thought that the medium (illustration) of this work would have made itself felt, and that the authors would have taken some care to illustrate some of the trickier aspects of the mathematics or philosophies that the story revolves around. In fairness, they try just that with Russell's Paradox (and some cute barbers), but there is far too little of this and far too much of great minds doing mundane things. Frege harvests roses; Cantor scribbles madness; Russell lights a pipe.Now I wasn't expecting another Godel, Escher, Bach, but Doxiadis has written better books before, so I was at least expecting that he would respect the audience who would naturally pick up a book of this type enough to ask his illustrators to do more than draw themselves walking around Athens, or draw Bertrand Russell smoking a pipe.In the end Russell gets around to explaining to his audience that if the greatest minds of his age (Wittgenstein not withstanding) could not figure a way to ground the foundations of logic in an objective reality, then there could be no infallible logical argument against fighting the nazis. Here should have endeth the lesson, but somehow the authors felt the need (madness perhaps) to take us on a journey to see Aeschylus' Oresteia, the moral of which (mercy?) seems to have no place at the end of this story.I was hoping I could recommend this book to those who might want to become more familiar with the characters without charging into GEB, or DFW's Everything and More, or even, *-forbid, the Tractatus, but it's just not very well executed.