Emblems of Mind: The Inner Life of Music and Mathematics

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9780226729541: Emblems of Mind: The Inner Life of Music and Mathematics
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One is a science, the other an art; one useful, the other seemingly decorative, but mathematics and music share common origins in cult and mystery and have been linked throughout history. Emblems of Mind is Edward Rothstein’s classic exploration of their profound similarities, a journey into their “inner life.” Along the way, Rothstein explains how mathematics makes sense of space, how music tells a story, how theories are constructed, how melody is shaped. He invokes the poetry of Wordsworth, the anthropology of Lévi-Strauss, the imagery of Plato, and the philosophy of Kant. Math and music, Rothstein shows, apply comparable methods as they create their abstractions, display similar concerns with ratio and proportion, and depend on metaphors and analogies to create their meanings. Ultimately, Rothstein argues, they reveal the ways in which we come to understand the world. They are images of the mind at work and play; indeed, they are emblems of Mind itself. 

Jacques Barzun called this book “splendid.” Martin Gardner said it was “beautifully written, marvelous and entertaining.” It will provoke all serious readers to think in new ways about the grand patterns in art and life. 

“Lovely, wistful. . . . Rothstein is a wonderful guide to the architecture of musical space, its tensions and relations, its resonances and proportions. . . . His account of what is going on in the music is unfailingly felicitous.”—New Yorker

“Provocative and exciting. . . . Rothstein writes this book as a foreign correspondent, sending dispatches from a remote and mysterious locale as a guide for the intellectually adventurous. The remarkable fact about his work is not that it is profound, as much of the writing is, but that it is so accessible.”—Christian Science Monitor

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About the Author:

Edward Rothstein is cultural critic-at-large for the New York Times. He also has served as chief music critic for the Times and as music critic for the New Republic. The recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, Rothstein has written for Commentary, Vanity Fair, and the New York Review of Books.

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Rothstein, who is both a mathematician and a musician, is currently the chief music critic for the New York Times. In moving back and forth between the worlds of music and mathematics, he has frequently encountered the generally accepted notion that there are many connections between the two. This book attempts "to explain why these connections are far from accidental or incidental and why they reveal something profound about the nature of each activity." Rothstein writes for the lay reader: this decidedly nonmathematical reviewer found the examples from mathematics quite accessible, and the music discussion could be grasped even without the explanatory figures. However, each section of the book focuses mainly on one field or the other, and, for all his clarity, Rothstein does not ever really succeed in drawing them together. Still, academic and larger public libraries should have a sufficient number of patrons who share Rothstein's dual interests, and they will find much to ponder and enjoy in this book.?Martin Jenkins, Wright State Univ. Lib., Dayton, Ohio
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780812925609: Emblems of Mind: The Inner Life of Music and Mathematics

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ISBN 10:  0812925602 ISBN 13:  9780812925609
Publisher: Crown, 1995
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9780380727476: Emblems of the Mind

Harper..., 1996
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9780812922981: Emblems of mind: The inner life of music and mathematics

Times ..., 1995
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