Written in his later years, this is Hardy’s paean to and defense of pure mathematics, and his lament at not being able to practice it at the level he once could.
Like “Guns, Germs, and Steel”, Clark’s book is attempting to answer the question “why are some countries rich and others poor?” In particular, Clark is asking why the Industrial Revolution started when and where it did. His answer is cultural, and possibly even genetic, evolution resulting from the unique circumstances and Darwinian selection pressures that were operating in England for much of its pre-Revolution period. It’s a striking claim, but he lays out a significant amount of evidence for it.
I think this may be my favorite Hofstadter book to date. There is no denying the brilliance of “Gödel, Escher, Bach”, but GEB is a pretty hard slog. This volume is shorter and, I think, much more accessible.
That is not to say it is just a trip through the daisies. There are some deep ideas being explored here, including all of Hofstadter’s usual interests: consciousness, self-reference, and analogies, with all of it shot through with his trademark word-play.
This is also a much more personal book than GEB. The tone is warmer, but also sadder at times, largely because of the death of his wife.
A very good book.
I liked my first one so much I decided to extend the DNA theme down the rest of my left arm. Since my first artist wasn’t too keen on custom work in the first place, I did some research and found Daryle Fountain at what was then Modern Electric Studio and is now Mojuju Tatu (they moved and added another artist). Anyway, after about six months and thirty hours in the chair, here are the results, thank you Daryle!.