"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person."and Wilde's words have gotten me thinking again about subtleties of language.
Also in recent news, the death of Nobelist V. S. Naipaul (1932-2018) -- and here is one of this writer's thought-provoking statements:
Non-fiction can distort;
facts can be realigned.
But fiction never lies. V.S. Naipaul, A Bend in the River
My own thoughts about language most often focus on the condensed languages of mathematics and poetry -- and the need for frequent re-readings before understanding arrives. Here, below, I include a poem by Stephanie Strickland that speaks eloquently of the struggles in which our minds engage concerning objects and the symbols that represent them -- struggles that are involved in creating and reading both mathematics and poetry . . .
Striving All My Life by Stephanie Strickland
Maxwell said: There is no more powerful way
to introduce knowledge to the mind than … as many different
ways as we can, wrenching the mind
from the symbols to the objects and from the objects
back to the symbols.
Maxwell said: I have been striving all my life to be free
of the yoke of Cartesian co-ordinates. I found
such an instrument in
quaternions. Do I need quaternions
to talk about light?
the square of quaternions
is negative. But Gibbs’s vectors, uncouth
well, in any dimension, with a very
great capability for
interpreting space relations.
Rukeyser said: Critical minds
that approach the world with love
have but one possible
defense—to build a system.
Rayleigh said, I protest
Gibbs: I myself concluded
that the paper was
Stephanie Strickland‘s “Striving All My Life” was first published in The Kenyon Review in 1995, then in her collection True North (Notre Dame Press, 1997), and also is included in the collection: Strange Attractors: Poems of Love and Mathematics (AK Peters/CRC Press, 2008) edited by Sarah Glaz and me.
In closing, a return to Oscar Wilde; the website Brainy Quotes pairs the statement quoted above with this line that echoes, in part, the quote from Naipaul:
"Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth."Oscar Wilde wrote poetry -- but it is said that he was hopelessly bad at arithmetic.