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by Janna Levin

ePub A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines download
Author:
Janna Levin
ISBN13:
978-1400040308
ISBN:
1400040302
Language:
Publisher:
Knopf; 1st edition (August 22, 2006)
Subcategory:
Politics & Government
ePub file:
1248 kb
Fb2 file:
1141 kb
Other formats:
mbr txt azw mobi
Rating:
4.8
Votes:
372

After reading Janna Levin's A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines I really feel far less of a need to finish what I. .

After reading Janna Levin's A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines I really feel far less of a need to finish what I started, because she basically captured what I'd kept confined in my head, off the page. Janna Levin is a physicist with a concentration in philosophy (her primary professional focus is cosmology but she had formal focus on philosophy as well, and I think it shows) yet on the stylistic level her writing is fantastic and surely shames huge numbers of authors who've workshopped their way through MFAs and maybe even published for years and years, while narrowly.

First published in 2016, the book won several awards, including the prestigious PEN/Bingham Fellowship Prize for Writers and the MEA Mary Shelley Award for Outstanding Fictional Work. It was also a runner-up for the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award.

After reading Janna Levin's A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines I really feel far less of a need to finish what I.This was not a good book, which is a shame because the two scientists it speaks about, Alan Turing and Kurt Godel, are titans of 20th century thinking. I still might finish it one day, but after reading David Leavitt's beautiful Turing biography (The Man Who Knew Too Much: Alan Turing and the Invention of the Computer) and this incredible his(The I began writing a short story about Alan Turing last year. Despite a lengthy scribbled outline it remains a stunted opening gambit.

M John Harrison is transfixed by Janna Levin's story of two troubled souls, A Madman Dreams of Turing .

M John Harrison is transfixed by Janna Levin's story of two troubled souls, A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines. Without this sneaky restatement of Gödel's proposition, A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines would be less a novel than a biography - or, rather, two of them, heavily intertwined and lightly fictionalised.

In this remarkable work of fiction, astrophysicist Janna Levin reimagines the lives of two of the most important .

In this remarkable work of fiction, astrophysicist Janna Levin reimagines the lives of two of the most important and influential minds of our time. A unique amalgam of luminous imagination and richly evoked historic character and event-A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines is a story about the pursuit of truth and its effect on the lives of two men. A story of genius and madness, incredible yet true.

Janna Levin is such a person. She is the author of Madman Dreams of Turing Machines, the story of two great mathematical minds, Kurt Godel and Alan Turing. They were men who had the capacity to think about the most abstract of mathematical truths but had very limited abilities when it came to confronting the mundane aspects of life.

As Levin alternates between the lives of Turing and G?del, she delivers a convincing, palpably human portrait of solitary .

As Levin alternates between the lives of Turing and G?del, she delivers a convincing, palpably human portrait of solitary genius. The Philadelphia Inquirer A simple work of genius. Toronto Globe & Mail Her characters and their century come brilliantly. Turing died from an apple injected with cyanide and Gödel was a paranoid lunatic.

The narrator of Janna Levin’s novel calls Gödel and Turing her two mad treasures. Alan Turing died after taking a bite of an apple that was laced with cyanide

The narrator of Janna Levin’s novel calls Gödel and Turing her two mad treasures. Alan Turing died after taking a bite of an apple that was laced with cyanide. Kurt Gödel died of a paradox: he thought people were plotting to kill him by poisoning his food, so he refused to eat and consequently starved to death. Did these two men self-destruct because of their logical prowess, or in spite of it? Did they reach some tragic deduction about life that the rest of us are too dim to see? And was it just a coincidence that both were inordinately fond of the Walt Disney movie Snow White ?

Автор: Levin, Janna Название: A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines ISBN: 1400032407 ISBN-13(EAN) .

Автор: Tiearney, Janna Название: Speaking and listening middle primary ISBN: 1920962255 ISBN-13(EAN): 9781920962258 Издательство: Неизвестно Рейтинг

In this remarkable work of fiction, astrophysicist Janna Levin reimagines the lives of two of the most important and influential minds of our time.The narrator is a scientist herself, a physicist obsessed with Kurt Gödel, the greatest logician of many centuries, and with Alan Turing, the extraordinary mathematician, breaker of the Enigma Code during World War II. “They are both brilliantly original and outsiders,” the narrator tells us. “They are both besotted with mathematics. But for all their devotion, mathematics is indifferent, unaltered by any of their dramas . . . Against indifference, I want to tell their stories.” Which she does in a haunting, incantatory voice, the two lives unfolding in parallel narratives that overlap in the magnitude of each man’s achievement and demise: Gödel, delusional and paranoid, would starve himself to death; Turing, arrested for homosexual activities, would be driven to suicide. And they meet as well in the narrator’s mind, where facts are interwoven with her desire and determination to find meaning in the maze of their stories: two men devoted to truth of the highest abstract nature, yet unable to grasp the mundane truths of their own lives.A unique amalgam of luminous imagination and richly evoked historic character and event—A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines is a story about the pursuit of truth and its effect on the lives of two men. A story of genius and madness, incredible yet true.
  • Levin brings ghosts back to life in this page turner (or left swiper) of a book. I am left haunted thinking about how gentler (and more productive) their lives would have been if they had lived today.

    One thing I love about Levin's style is how accessible she makes complicated ideas. She has a real gift for this. Although the primary subjects are mathematicians, the book presents their big ideas without equations or technical details. You will understand the incompleteness theorem without needing to know symbolic logic, and the explanation moves the story.

    A few style choices irked me. For example, the repeated use of the German word "Strasse" when "street" would have been just fine. These are petty criticisms of an excellent book, but I found them annoying enough to deduct 1/2 star.

  • I began writing a short story about Alan Turing last year. Despite a lengthy scribbled outline it remains a stunted opening gambit. After reading Janna Levin's A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines I really feel far less of a need to finish what I started, because she basically captured what I'd kept confined in my head, off the page. I still might finish it one day, but after reading David Leavitt's beautiful Turing biography (The Man Who Knew Too Much: Alan Turing and the Invention of the Computer) and this incredible historical fiction of Levin's I feel like they've jointly completed what I wanted to see carried out: a sensitive, detailed, intellectually astute and "literary" portrait of this far too underappreciated genius and his tragic decline.

    This is the historically-informed story of two 20th century intellectual giants, Alan Turing and Kurt Gödel. Other real life figures make supporting appearances such as Wittgenstein and Otto Neurath. There are also very brief and well-placed metafictional entries and minute allusions that bring the author into the fold in a narrator-as-character manner, as can be seen in the very (non-)beginning of the book:

    "There is no beginning. I've tried to invent one but it was a lie and I don't want to be a liar. This story will end where it began, in the middle. A triangle or a circle. A closed loop with three points.

    At one apex is a paranoid lunatic, at another is a lonesome outcast: Kurt Gödel, the greatest logician of many centuries; and Alan Turing, the brilliant code breaker and mathematician. Their genius is a testament to our worth, an antidote to insignificance; and their bounteous flaws are luckless but seemingly natural complements, as though greatness can be doled out only with an equal measure of weakness."

    The connection between mental illness and artistic and intellectual greatness is a long established cliché by this point and is probably far too often overstated via confirmation bias. There's a fantastic documentary called Dangerous Knowledge which focuses on four mathematicians and/or scientists who all grappled with hugely complex and difficult issues like the nature of the deepest structures of reality, infinity, human consciousness, free will v. determinism, etc, and all ended up killing themselves. Turing and Gödel are two of the four. There's an implication that it was their theories and obsessive intellectual aspirations that drove them to commit suicide, which I think is a rather flawed notion considering the facts and other plausible explanations. However, it does make for compelling narrative to peer into the lives of tortured geniuses consumed by their own big brains or whatever, and is an excellent sounding board for thinking about the pursuit of knowledge and its various costs and benefits. In any case, these are fascinating stories, and Turing's in particular I find the most captivating and tragic.

    Alan Turing's influence is felt hugely in the realm of computer science, cryptology, Artificial Intelligence and mathematical logic more generally. He's often credited as one of the single most important influences on the development of the modern computer--without Turing we may not be having this exchange of information right now. He also played a hugely instrumental role in cracking the German Naval Enigma Code in WWII with his tireless cryptology work and innovations in the field which allowed for a far more rapid decoding of the German transmissions that were quite literally matters of life or death. After the war he was arrested for admitting to having homosexual relationships to the police after he reported being burgled by a casual fling--arrested and prosecuted by the very same government he'd served and protected. Instead of going to prison he was chemically castrated. The regimen of huge doses of estrogen caused him to gain weight and grow breasts, fall into a chemical depression, and ultimately end his life by eating a cyanide-glazed apple, mimicking one of his favorite films, Snow White. Turing was persecuted to death. The British government has the blood of a genius (who saved them from further Axis-led destruction) on their hands. Only as recently as 2009 has the British government issued an official apology for this incident that occurred in 1952 (however the same government has rejected the proposal to posthumously pardon Turing of his "crimes"). It took the Roman Catholic Church 359 years to finally officially apologize for persecuting Galileo for positing that the Earth revolves around the sun, so perhaps this is the sign of a kind of progress, but it still all feels far too little, far too late.

    Kurt Gödel was a mathematician and logician (the distinction between the two starts to break down at a certain point) who famously constructed his Incompleteness Theorems, which I still have trouble explaining, because I'm a dummy when it comes to mathematics and formal logic (Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem For Dummies). I am truly ignorant about mathematical matters, but I can appreciate from my perch of acknowledged ignorance the allure of "the sanctity and purity of mathematics, the profound truth so completely immune to human stains." Gödel was also an absolute loon. He held a deep paranoid fear of being poisoned and as such rarely ate anything and only enough to keep his skeletal frame alive, and had elaborate rituals involving his wife's cooking. He was also a member of the famed Vienna Circle, a group of intellectuals who met weekly to discuss the tenets of their new unifying idealistic philosophy of Logical Positivism. Gödel, along with Wittgenstein, each in their own ways, aided in dismantling this group with their unorthodox ideas. There are great sections in this book where Gödel's proposed notions of "Incompleteness" cause a great uproar amongst those seeking complete unifying theories to knit all of reality together. Gödel lived much longer than Turing, but ultimately died by starving himself to death both out of his paranoid notions of being poisoned and for other sad and errant reasons: there's a passage in the book where Gödel delusionally claims that his refusal to eat is a proof of his free will, something he desperately wanted to believe in, along with the existence of an afterlife.

    Turing and Gödel never met, but they were certainly aware of each other's work and so the only way they collide in the book is in mentioning one another's ideas.

    Janna Levin is a physicist with a concentration in philosophy (her primary professional focus is cosmology but she had formal focus on philosophy as well, and I think it shows) yet on the stylistic level her writing is fantastic and surely shames huge numbers of authors who've workshopped their way through MFAs and maybe even published for years and years, while narrowly focused on literary fiction and nothing else. Janna Levin churns out steadily captivating prose that soars richly and exultantly without succumbing to a plummeted decadence; regularly supplanting ho-hum descriptions with a strikingly vivid lyricism through the conjuring of unusual imago-sensory crossbreeds that dance across the neural pathways with pleasantly assured aplomb.

    The book is thoroughly researched as the notes provided at the back of the book further prove. It's intellectually dexterous in its portrayals of these brilliant and flawed figures. The subjects (and the sort of human beings most tightly latched upon them) that are classically conceived of as cold and cerebral and arrogantly cocksure are sensitively imbued with the squirming life and heat of fallibility, frailty, confusion, and the portrayal of the true scientific spirit, where truth is provisional, and self-doubt and self-interrogation are constant companions.

    While this is a book of heady ideas, it's also a humanizing ode. The sections on Turing especially tugged the heartstrings. He was an odd but deeply sympathetic person. There are gripping descriptions of London being bombed by the German Luftwaffe, of Alan's loneliness and tragic loss of his one true love as a schoolboy, and multiple gorgeous sections about the interconnectivity of things that just need to be read to be felt.

    Both Turing and Gödel chased after the Truth with great fervor accompanied by great doubt. This classic yearning for the Truth of All Truths is maybe something many can easily set aside as not worth wasting time over when there is a more pressing desire for the Pursuit of Happiness on offer. I myself have often done this and will continue to do it. Hitting a wall where I no longer hunger for deep abstract truths about the nature of consciousness or reality or death, etc. But the desire never fully cools either. Also, even if one doesn't care at all about such cliché or high-minded foolishness, everyone knows what it's like to yearn strongly for something Ideal, be it Romantic Love or the Perfect Career or the Perfect Artistic Creation and so on. As Olga Neurath says to Gödel about her and her husband finally accepting his Incompleteness Theorem:

    "Your incompleteness theorem was hard for him to accept. It was hard for all of us, for every mathematician alive. But then Moritz always knew that it did not matter what he believed. What matters is the truth. And somehow you found it hidden where none of us could see. We all came to realize that mathematics is still flawless--no paradoxes, contradictions--just some truths that cannot be proven. Not so bad. We can live with that. He could live with that. [...] I myself worried from the start. Kurt, you worried us. It was hard for us for a time, to be sure. If not even arithmetic is complete, then what could we hope for from out philosophies, from our sciences, from the very things that were to be our salvation? The buoys that we clung--perhaps, I would admit now, with too much desperation--were taken away. [...] And here we are again with our hopes being crushed. I used to believe that when I was older I would come to some kind of conclusion, some calming resolution, and then the restlessness would end. I would know something definitive and questions would fade. But that will never happen. [...] We wanted to construct complete worldviews, complete and consistent theories and philosophies, perfect solutions where everything could find its place. But we cannot. The girls I hear playing in the park when I walk to the institute, our neighbor the old woman who will die soon, our own circle, we all prize a resolution, a gratifying ending, completeness and unity, but we are surrounded by incompleteness.

    So I think that reading about the pursuit of Truth can still be moving and redemptive and nourishing for those who do not currently or never have really put much value on it. And then the journey becomes more valuable than the destination, as the ol' cliché reminds us.

  • it’s difficult for me to describe the emotions I feel reading A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines. The subjects in this book have, since my undergrad days in logic and philosophy, been my gods--mysterious, wise, but intangible. This book contextualizes their discoveries and so makes them more human and even more meaningful for me. I feel a little less lonely in this world after reading this book.

  • This book is really superb. I just finished a second reading. These are extremely important stories.
    The writing shows deep understanding, originality, and wit. Wow.

    I got a mathematician to give me some background on Godel's Incompleteness Theorems, and I'm
    now reading "Godel's Proof," which is non-technical but very serious. I've also read a little Turing,
    and seen the wonderful quasi-biographical move, The Imitation Game. Everyone should know about
    him, what he contributed to the world (computers, basically, and a huge contribution to beating the Nazis)
    Everyone should also know how society payed him back. (Hint: he was gay.)

  • This book is written so well and was such a pleasure to read. Rarely do you truly feel like you are in the mind of the characters but as I read I felt their frustrations, shared their successes, and experienced their moments of enlightenment in a vicarious sort of fashion. I appreciated the history lesson, albeit admittedly fabricated to a certain degree, I know it was constructed around a factual lattice work of events. Perhaps not everybody will appreciate a book like this as much as I did but I do think that it would benefit any mind willing and able to partake in its genius. I say, you are missing out if you don't read it.