Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Logicomix: an epic search for truth

by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou
with Alecos Papadatos (art) and Annie Di Donna (color)

Abso-frickin'-lutely amazing! But I'm afraid if I tell you what it's about, you probably will think it sounds really boring...

This graphic novel tells the life story of philosopher and logician Bertrand Russell, who sought a solid logical foundation for mathematics and instead discovered a paradox that demonstrates the impossibility of describing, or even locating, such a bedrock from within the system of math, set theory and formal logic. Amazing, right? I mean, have you ever asked yourself whether "the set of all sets that don't contain themselves" contains itself? Of course it doesn't, because if it did, then it wouldn't, in which case it would, because it couldn't... Perhaps there's a reason so many logicians go insane (or why the insane are attracted to the study of formal logic).

Just like Russell's paradox, this book is self-referential, with segments on how the authors and illustrators worked on constructing the story, discussion of the meaning of the story and of story-telling itself, and even an allegory of sorts relating to the Greek tragedy The Eumenides, the last play in the Oresteia trilogy by Aeschylus.

No comments: