In a 1996 interview, David Foster Wallace (a student of advanced mathematics in college in addition to being, you know, a writer) revealed that the structure of his career-defining work Infinite Jest was devised as a literary fractal.
It’s actually structured like something called a Sierpinski Gasket, which is a very primitive kind of pyramidical fractal, although what was structured as a Sierpinski Gasket was the first- was the draft that I delivered to [my editor] Michael in ‘94, and it went through some I think ‘mercy cuts’, so it’s probably kind of a lopsided Sierpinski Gasket now.
This Serpinski Gasket that he speaks of? The ordered wormhole of symmetrical layers? It’s a famous construction of stacked triangles that you’ve probably seen before.
Want to dig really deep into the literary mathemagic behind Wallace’s work? Here’s a fantastic essay in the Los Angeles Review of Books (warning: pretty cerebral). DFW reminds us:
“God has particular languages, and one of them is music and one of them is mathematics.”
(Tip of the triangle to Maria Popova)