Unreal Nature

October 23, 2015

Not the Answer

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:35 am

… Woe betide him who begins … directly from the “answers” …

This is from Knight’s Move by Viktor Shklovsky (2005):

… There are books of mathematical problems; the problems in them are arranged in order. Some problems concern an equation with one unknown. A bit farther on are problems concerning the quadratic equation.

The answers are found at the back of the book. They are given as an even column in order:

4835 …….. 5 sheep
4836 …….. 17 cranes
4837 …….. 13 days
4838 …….. 1000 herrings

Woe betide him who begins the study of mathematics directly from the “answers” and tries to make sense of that exact column.

The problems are important and the course of their solutions — not the answers.

Those theoreticians whose interest in works of art confines itself to the ideas, the conclusions, and not the structure of things, find themselves in the position of a man who, wanting to study mathematics, studies the columns of answers.

… Unfortunate is the writer who tries to augment the weight of his work not by articulating its direction but by magnifying the “answer” to his problem.

[ … ]

… How unaccustomed are the philistines to the fact that art is always before them, that those artists of interest to art history are only those who want to do something different from their predecessors. There are others, those who want to do the same thing over and over again, but they are of no interest.

My most recent previous post from Shklovsky’s book is here.

-Julie

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