How much math will make you go insane?
I remember when I had returned to college full time in 1998, a Physics professor from China told us that we could expect to only get about 4 hours sleep each night. As a student I could justify the obsession with studying ... and yet now, all these years later, "slipping" back into this obsession, witnessing myself in this mode without "credits" and "degrees" as motivation sometimes has me questioning my sanity.
I would never discuss these doubts with a professional since I do not want to live a "normal life" anyway.
I mean ... I don't want to sit back and vegetate in front of a television or consider seeking some humble employment to "occupy my time". Too much time is not the problem. The problem is this unacknowledged fear of some kind of intrinsic limitation of how much I can retain, and trying to remain interested in what I am learning without thinking about where it is leading. In other words, this entails a great deal of patience with myself ... and dealing with frustrations.
Maybe there can never be any long lasting peace, and I will just have to be content to retain whatever I can thankful for hours of undisturbed leisure. The only world I have left to defend is the one inside my head!
Also, in the end, even as I do enjoy making the minor breakthroughs in understanding, it does not change the nightmarish quality of existence itself.
I have this crazy idea that if I can just understand what a differential equation means (not just solve it), I might better understand the underlying workings of nature. This pursuit will not lead to happiness.
I am sure that this is a healthier obsession than seeking alcoholic oblivion. I have witnessed the agonizing misery taking place in the hearts of those chasing euphoria on a daily basis.
Do I have to set aside time to read a novel
With My Dog-Eyes is only 59 pages.
With My Dog-Eyes is an account of an unraveling—of sanity, of language . . . After experiencing a vision of what he calls “a clear-cut unhoped-for,” college professor Amós Keres struggles to reconcile himself with his life as a father, a husband, and a member of the university with its “meetings, asskissers, pointless rivalries, gratuitous resentments, jealous talk, megalomanias.”
I did some research on the author:
Hilst's father was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, her mother with dementia. Hilst herself, who had been a great beauty and socialite in her youth, began to write seriously by her 30s, eventually confining herself to isolation in her home built in coffee fields inherited from her parents. She devoted herself to literature, her dogs ("sometimes numbering more than one hundred," we're told in the introduction by the translator, Adam Morris), and, for "many years towards the end of her life, [spending] every evening getting drunk on cheap whiskey, drunk to the point of not remembering the things she said or the fights she provoked. 'I drink because it's the only way I can tolerate reality.'" Insanity, or a radically fractured view of her intolerable reality, is what her work both is, and is about.
I am personally intimate with that route. Maybe becoming obsessed with mathematics again is the only way I can tolerate a life without alcohol. I have to justify all this excess consciousness and give it something challenging to investigate. It's not a quick fix, but I am sure that, on some level, I am reaching for some kind of defiant breakthrough.
This may all sound rather forbidding, and I wouldn't want to pretend that it's more reader-friendly than it is. There are few concessions to conventional understanding: we get flashes, but they are not comforting. This is a mind unravelling, and through the gaps we see a horrified fascination with the body, a kind of carnal awareness of existential futility.
So here you go: this is the heavy stuff, literature as an assault course, not for the impatient or faint-hearted, or those who suspect they're having their legs pulled. Look on it as not so much a novel as an extended prose poem, written from the edge.
I guess all I can do is let it play itself out. It's as though I have made a pact that there is no backing out of. Returning to mathematics and developing an authentic understanding of fundamental concepts may be something I am documenting the process of in order to convince myself not to slip back into the downward spiral that leads into far more agonizing forms of insanity.http://youtu.be/hnzHtm1jhL4
I am glad I don't play video games. That's a whole different kind of geek-monster than the mathematics & programming geek-creature. Some folks are obsessed with their cars or their offspring or their careers or their "significant others" ... As far as obsessions goe, this obsession, once the used books have been tracked down, as well as remaining settled in some domicile where the books, notes, computers are stored, is not expensive to maintain.
Even if it were some kind of demonic possession, it appears to be a far more peaceful radicalization than the more "religious," "nationalistic," or "ethnic and tribal" radicalizations.
I don't feel like I belong to any tribe and I am not concerned about projecting my "self" biologically into the future. Is it possible to have a "spiritual connection" to, or as, the Thing-in-Itself, simply by having thought deeply in terms of philosophy and mathematics?
One does not have to be hired or given a position on some faculty to participate in the realms of mathematics or literature. These passions do not depend on monetization to be validated and authenticated. One could be in a dungeon or an insane asylum and continue to "access this realm" --- although it would be far more difficult to study more advanced areas, and one would have to settle into and explore what has left the greatest impression.ahhhh!
This is another motivation, and I may have mentioned it subconsciously as a kind of "joke," that I was desperately filling my head with as much mathematics as I could retain and understand so that, in case I were subdued by knuckle-dragging corporate police thugs for the thought-crimes I may have unintentionally committed simply by not bowing down to "the Master," I would still have this realm of mathematics and philosophy within me which could not be taken.
Perhaps this is also the motivation for my concentration on a limited area of mathematics, spontaneously venturing into Number Theory and Abstract Algebra but mainly trying to discipline the "demon" by focusing on areas I have been exposed to but feel I lack enough understanding to "preach it" without access to books.
I want to be able to live as a "mathematics preacher" even were I to be swooped up by corporate psychiatric police thugs and thrown into a "therapy prison" or dogg pound.
(Nice goals, Mr. H. Now that is a practical game plan. You just can't lose with that plan.)
Yeah, so, basically, learning mathematics is never a waste of time.
To reiterate: How much math will make you go insane?
Well, I felt I was swooped along through both Linear Algebra and Multivariable Calculus (as an elective!)
, and moved along to other mathematics and mathematically charged "computer science" courses, always learning to program on the side. Programming is not taught as a discipline in itself. Then, after the diploma proved not to be the key to the "kingdom," I fell into depression ...
Finally, upon realizing that "the kingdom is within me," so to speak, and that, unlike our great mentor, Arthur Schopenhauer, my mother actually needs me to be very present in her life, once I shook off the alcoholic stupor and understood that I was most myself when sitting alone in a room or outside on the stoop in a rocking chair thinking with pen or pencil in hand, there were some concepts and ideas that I was kind of interested in ...
I think that building a stronger foundation in linear algebra and multivariable calculus will prepare me for being a student of differential equations ... to get a glimpse of where the formulas in physics come from, and what they really mean ... So, regardless of my age, and mostly out of curiosity and lack of interest in mindless entertainment and distraction, the mind is focusing on areas of knowledge it perceives as some kind of holy or unholy grail.
"By filling one's head instead of one's pocket, one cannot be robbed."
Once again, I do wonder, How much math will make you go insane?
The way I am approaching it is on a very personal level. I am living a kind of unwriteable novel that perhaps can only be encountered on the most subjective level and can not easily be "told as a story," for it is mostly chaos. I, like so many other millions of our strange species, jot things down so as to reflect upon later, or to document my traversal through specific terrain ...