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March 17, 2017


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There's a quote from GK Chesterton which I'm sure you've heard:

"Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom."

Someone else (I forget who) said "Insanity is not unreason. Insanity is reason with nothing else".

After reading about Goedel and now Bloch, I can't help suspecting Chesterton had a point. Highly focused people are often eccentric, but that's not the same thing. What do you think? Is there a significantly above average proportion of mathematicians and hard scientists who (by whatever standard) go 'over the edge'?

Romeo  Vitelli

My impression is that madness can strike someone from any walk of life. Scientists and mathematicians can go mad, but so can poets, artists, and writers. Madness is truly democratic.


Madness is always an obsession lasting longer than 7 days. We carry our obsessions around with us each day and heaven forbid anyone should enquire deeply into our obsessive thoughts or question our carefully built collection of obsessive acts. Obsessions are created, those created in difficult times of our life are bad, and those created in happier times are good. A good collector of obsessive thoughts know to avoid those created in anger, or when voices were raised in temper. Take away our obsessions and we become bored and irritable.

John E.

Do you know where one could some letters he wrote?

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