Archive for March, 2017

Srinivasa Iyengar Ramanujan

March 18, 2017

I totally forgot when was the last time I read a non technical book (that is, prose). Right now I am enduring reading a non technical book about Ramanujan’s life (the Indian Mathematical prodigy/genius):

// __ The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius
Ramanujan, by Robert Kanigel
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Washington Square Press; Media Tie-In edition (April 26, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1476763496

Book, which I would have titled: “The Kid Who Saw Infinity”.

I learned about Ramanujan (Rah-MAH-noo-jnm) when I was in school. My interest in semiotics made me bounce onto him once again (via Jacques Hadamard’s “Psychology of Invention in the Mathematical Field” > Hardy’s “Mathematician’s Apology” …), this time with the disposition and time to learn more about him:

// __ PAW – Panda Art Works (52:15): Documentary on Math Genius Srinivasa Ramanujam
// __ Indian Diplomacy (50:43): SRINIVASA RAMANUJAN: The Mathematician & His Legacy
// __ shivaraj fathate (1:48:36): infinity Indian Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan
My main interest being eventually a consciousness study about the dynamics among authors, cultures and societies.

I am putting up with all the paternalistic (yet, very well philosophically, anthropologically, historically framed) cr@p in that book and I am not finished yet, but I wonder what the “explanation” will be for Ramanujan’s unfortunately early death due to health related reasons at 32.

I think it was Hardy’s mistake to charter his friend Neville with his quasi-kidnap to Britain even during WWI, which, as “hospital” as they were, Ramanujan never liked. OK, in those times there was no Internet and all those Royal fellows in Britain were taken aback by that “Indian clerk” no one had heard of and who hadn’t even finished his Bachelor’s and would shun basic school exams (which I find quite extreme, my only way to make sense of this is that Ramanujan didn’t want for anything to interfere between his Mathematics and “the voice of God”); yet, he was bringing the whole field of Mathematics to new and unsuspected heights.

I have lived in a foreign country not as a tourist or “missionary”, but pretending to be “a Roman while in Rome”. There are very true under currents and corollaries to the Biblical: “you are not a prophet in your land”. My predicative coda to that one liner is “because you will always be preaching to the choir of your own belief system”, so, you will never become the proverbial “Roman” as forcefully and illusively as you may try.

It has been repeatedly insinuated in that book (my take) that Ramanujan was basically, somewhat violently cajoled not only by the British but also his own people, into exchanging the b#llsh!t of the Indian caste system (his Brahmin status) for the British (fellow of the Royal Society) one, but what they are not taking into consideration is that that was the kind of sh!t “he knew”, the kind of sh!t he was, the pillars underpinning his consciousness … that even though (especially Hardy would take that as some unbelievably preposterous nonsense) he could not understand when Ramanujan would tell him that he paid attention to, was lead by “the voice of God” … (as some sort of proof guiding him through the paths of his equations).

Britons seemed to have forgotten the kind of guy their most beloved Sir Isaac Newton was. Did he not only keep more extensive notes about all sorts of crazed ideas and topics other than “Natural Philosophy”, but, as a determined alchemist, almost fatally poison himself.

// __ The Strange, Secret History of Isaac Newton’s Papers
I don’t think that author Robert Kanigel is trying to poke fun at the way Ramanujan would strut around in Western shoes …, I can’t help, but feeling viscerally offended, who the preposterous eff are we Westerners to try to “Westernize” him “for the greater good”, as a “‘white’ man burden” kind of thing … Why being “hospitable” to him? Why not just letting him -be-? In fact, letting him be in India, with possible short periods of time in Britain, probably Hardy visiting him there too, would be best for Mathematics, Western society, India, …

When I was in school in East Germany (one of the toughest Universities in Europe even by Western standards (one the 9’s)) I found once one of my friends crying like babies. I could not understand why. Some of my friends were brilliant in Math, but could not adjust to living in a foreign country, adjust to a mindset and ways of living that was very different to the Cuban one (even though both countries were Western and “communist”). Just trying to get used to not seeing the sun at times for a week, not smelling the sea and the long and very cold winters was not easy. On top of that the new language (new languages don’t bother me, only the ones I do articulate ;-)) and the chunk of expected University work one had to produce … would make seemingly tough people “cry like babies”.

Ramanujan Carr Synopsis Loney Trigonometry