2002/11/08

I took a course on Bach in my last semester of college because of this book.

[Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, by Douglas Hofstadter]

By the way, there was another really clever dialogue in the GEB, which I read on Wednesday. It was titled, “A Little Harmonic Labyrinth,” which was a Bach composition that modulated continually until it ended on a key that was not the tonic. However, due to the constant modulation, the listener would have been deceived into believing that it was the tonic. Meanwhile, the dialogue itself was a story within a story within a story within a story, etc. and once the innermost story was finished, they would “pop” back up using a “Popping-Out Tonic” (see the pun, tonic?) and return the story before. But because there were so many embedded stories, only the careful reader would notice that the dialogue ended in a story within the largest story, that is, that it didn’t really return to the original starting point at all, just like Bach’s piece did not return to the original key. The next chapter then talked about recursion and how recursive definitions can create infinite loops and gave examples like Fibonacci numbers and other very cool ideas. I’d go into more detail if Hofstadter didn’t explain it all so well—if you’re curious, go read the GEB for yourself.