Random tidbit: I strongly considered calling last week’s video “Consider The Avocado” but I’m not sure that David Foster Wallace references are ready for YouTube prime time. But just so you know. That’s what I call it in my heart.
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)