In the Weekend Australian’s Review section today is an article about a play with this post’s title. A theatre company called Complicite is putting on the play and its artistic director is Simon McBurney who says:
“…maths requires an imaginative leap similar to that required to make a work of art. Hardy’s premise (from GH Hardy’s A Mathematician’s Apology ) that mathematics is a creative art was new to me. A mathematician, like an artist or poet, is a maker of patterns, but his patterns last longer because ideas wear less with time. So I started thinking about permanence, then about mortality. And their relationship, strangely enough, with mathematics”
Later he says:
“The problem is that we’ve been brought up to see maths and science as completely separate from the arts…when it’s become clearer to me that it’s really not a different subject at all”
The play ‘celebrates such beauty, linking continents, histories and viewpoints while asking questions about who we are, how we connect and whether – existentially speaking – we stay or go’.
Don’t you just love it? The mathematician’s patterns “last longer because ideas wear less with time”
Are we teaching those ideas that will last? Does what we teach explicitly relate to such ideas?
Let’s hope that it’s not the number of ideas that are disappearing under the weight of too many processes.