“I do not pretend to understand his music. I doubt if anyone, including those playing it, really understands it… I feel this music, or rather, as I said, it opens up a part of my self that normally is tightly closed, and seldom recognized feelings, emotions, thoughts well up from the opened door and sear my consciousness.”
Don DeMichael

Coltrane - The Story of a Sound

Alexander Grothendieck

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“One cannot invent the structure of an object. The most one can do is to patiently bring it to the light of day, with humility.”

Alexander Grothendieck

This article both attracted and repelled me. I felt like it was describing a special being, yet it was doing it within a mechanistic life-consuming mindset. I wouldn’t be surprised if Grothendieck retreated from the exact mentailty manifested in this article. From the article:

“… A hallmark of Grothendieck’s hypermentalistic thinking was his idea that the environment was a sentient being in need of protecting. He nursed tiny shoots collected in his garden, bringing them indoors to tend individually. Toward humans, though, he was more mercurial … He believed himself to be in communication with Plato and Descartes, and even with God himself. The belief in signal transmission is a signature psychotic delusion.”

I believe that, in time, we may discover that the belief “that signal transmission is a signature psychotic delusion” was itself a delusion of a destructive, narrow, misdirected mindset that misunderstood more than it understood.

Reading this made me feel sorrow towards Grothendieck and anger at the writer and the academic field she represents. I can understand why Grothendieck nursed tiny shoots and was volatile towards other humans.

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One Comment

  1. Posted May 23, 2020 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you. Having read Grothendieck’s “La Clef des Songes” and read many sources about his life, I am disappointed both by the amount of misinformation about him as well as the condescending tone many people judge him with. Don’t believe everything you read about him. He was an authentic human being.

    By the way, your picture is of Alain Connes (another great mathematician who admires Grothendieck).

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