Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Math and Beauty - Part 2: Brevity

Many many moons ago, I had the idea of writing a series of blogs documenting how I defined beauty by recourse to mathematics...and have since, apparently, forgotten all about it. I won't bore any viewers with half-hearted excuses on why I've been gone for nearly a year, but needless to say, I'm back, and I hope to continue the series with some regularity. So, with that out of the way...

Most of us know the standard definition of brevity; it means, in short, to be brief, or concise. Brevity is considered "the soul of wit", since its qualities are deemed pleasing to the ear when expressed in a short, biting apothegm. However, brevity doesn't belong to wit's domain alone; I hope to show that brevity is also the fountainhead of artistic beauty, and an important consideration in the creative process. How, you may ask? I'll try to be brief...

Now, take a look at the following:


This equation - known as Euler's Identity - is regarded by mathematicians the world over as arguably the most beautiful ever produced. The reasons are manifold, but there's no doubt that it's short form and simplicity play a big part in it; accustomed as we are to the idea that mathematicians love large tracks of arcane equations, in reality they prefer short statement like the above. It's not hard to guess why; something like Euler's Identity is much easier to remember and communicate to others, which was really the point of creating the thing in the first place (well, not really, but let's roll with that for now).

You see, many people - including artists themselves, unfortunately - seem to forget that art is useless if it fails to communicate something - that "something" being all the dreams, ideals, and definitions of beauty which fog the creative mind on a daily basis. Brevity is, in essence, good, concise communication; no matter how long the novel or sonata movement, or how vast the mural, such expressions are but the end product of a vast and murky process of the creative spirit.

Hm... on reflection, this post can hardly be called "brief"; still, I hope it opens a door into thinking about all these little faucets of artistic expression and beauty. Next topic will be a bit more abstract, but don't worry - I'll try to be bri-

...Oh, never mind.