I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter

Posted by Daniela Elza on Apr 10 2007

Intellectual conversations can go this way or that, there are backs and forths, agrees or disagrees, true or false, but when I come across a quote like this, it must be a mind (I mean a book) I should read:

Poised midway between the unvisualizable cosmic vastness of curved spacetime and the dubious, shadowy flickerings of charged quanta, we human beings, more like rainbows and mirages than like raindrops or boulders, are unpredictable self-writing poems — vague, metaphorical, ambiguous, and sometimes exceedingly beautiful.

As I read through Tim Bray‘s review (thanks Tim) and the following discussion, I did a little experiment with myself. I was listening to the way my mind was interacting with what it was reading. My mind seemed like it was constantly making these switch sounds (agree, huh, disagree, what the . . ., agree etc. ) and when I came to the above quote a space opened, a big space and the clicks stopped, it was quiet, it was big, and vast. That is what I am after. Understanding what this space is where poetry happens. We are self-writing poems, and in this process “we become what we attend to.” (Tim Lilburn)

I am reminded by a quote I recently came upon by Bachelard in his Poetics of Space:

…we are never real historians, but always near poets, and our emotion is perhaps nothing but an expression of a poetry that was lost.

Looking forward to reading the book from the linguist’s point of view.

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