Where Art and Maths Meet or "If Obama was defined as the first Democrat…um"

Happy Sunday!

So, I found this blog when I was taking College Algebra last semester. I was searching for help, it being 24 years since my last maths class, and it popped up in my google search. The blog wasn’t going to be much help at the time (for reasons that will become obvious) but I saved it anyway because it seemed interesting. Anyway, I got back to reading it recently and I do find it fascinating. The blog is called Mathematical Poetry. The blogger Kaz Maslanka has had a piece, “Peano’s String; A History of Spiritual Stories” accepted into the Bridges show in Leeuwarden Netherlands Aug 2008.

The Bridges Conferences have been running annually since 1998 and they aim to bring together practicing mathematicians, scientists, artists, educators, musicians, writers, computer scientists, sculptors, dancers, weavers, and model builders in what they call “a lively atmosphere of exchange and mutual encouragement”. The conferences have formal presentations, workshops, galleries and working sessions with artists who are crossing the mathematics-arts boundaries, and musical/theatrical events in the evening. So having a piece accepted, I would assume, is quite an achievement. I am not familiar with the show (not before now, I mean) but, in reading the theory behind axiomatic poetry on Kaz’s blog and seeing the piece that is being shown I was mesmorized. I dropped a comment on the blog and had a go at an axiomatic poem of my own, though not anywhere as artistic as this. I’m not sure if it even seems very poetic but hey I’m new!

That week the only “news” at all was the “race” for the Democratic Party nominee and although sick to death of the whole bloody thing, it was on my mind. I had asked Kaz if my poem made sense (not exactly being a mathematical genius myself) and received the response that my axioms are correct if Obama was defined as the first Democrat! Even though he is making history for firsts, this he can’t lay claim to can he? I would have to change it to Jefferson to be mathematically viable, I suppose. This, however, wouldn’t work because it would be a true statement and when I wrote it I was going for a little tongue in cheek about Obama’s superiority to Clinton. It worked, I think, when he was still in a race with her, them…

Here is a brief intro in case you didn’t visit the links above! In 1889 an Italian mathematician, Giuseppe Peano, created an axiomatic system based on two primitive notions and the five following statements:

1. One is a number
2. If x is a number, the successor of x is also a number.
3. One is not the successor of any number.
4. If two numbers have equal successors, they are equal.
5. If a set of numbers contains the number one and it contains all the successors of its members then the set contains all the numbers.
So this is mine: If Obama Was Defined as the First

1. Obama is a Democrat
2. If x is a Democrat, the follower of x is also a Democrat
3. Obama is not the follower of any Democrat
4. If two Democrats have equal followers they are equal
5. If a set of Democrats contains the Democrat Obama and it contains all the followers of its members the set contains all the Democrats
I am going to try my hand at similar traingle poems next — bet you can’t wait! Ha Ha!
Edited to add: Thanks for the comment Kaz!
Note: Kazmier Maslanka is an engineer and artist visit his website at http://www.kazmaslanka.com/ and you can see the galleries of work and the resumes of his outstanding achievement.
For any mathematicians that may be reading (a stretch, I think) even if the poems are not aesthetically pleasing to you, you may at least find this interesting: Proof that no cat is the God of itself (Peano’s proof by Professor Ray Balbes) I couldn’t follow all of it but what I did understand I am amazed by.
I’m taking Trigonometry next semester. Maybe I’ll find some poetry there.

photo by Frank Lewandowski http://www.sxc.hu/profile/fldesign

One thought on “Where Art and Maths Meet or "If Obama was defined as the first Democrat…um"

  1. Hi Angie, I would like to add that Obama could be viewed as the first “true” democrat in a long line of “true” democrats and your poem would make sense as well. As a poet you may take poetic license of course mathematicians may not find it (or my poem for that matter) very aesthetic. This dichotomy of aesthetics is what I find exciting about mathematical poetry.Thanks!Kaz


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