I am reading “Godel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid.” It has been on my list for several years and I heard it mentioned on NPR a couple of weeks ago, (that is where I learned Godel rhymes with noodle-unless I misremember) which rekindled my thought that I should read this book. I got it from our community college library, which by the way, is catalogued according to Library of Congress rather than Dewey and thus it was very novel for me to have to ask how to find a book. He asked me how long I wanted to keep it. I stood there in stunned silence. “A month?” “That is our usual time, but you can have it longer if you need.”

I read the introduction and learned that the guy who wrote it had planned to write an essay, maybe a pamphlet when he set out. In case you are unfamiliar with this book it weighs in at 740 pages with barely 30 pages of endnotes and bibliography beyond that. Luckily for me it is full of pictures and little math games, and music too.

“What is it about?” I hear you ask. Godel was a mathematician towards the beginning of the last century I believe. Escher is the guy who drew all the posters you saw in dorm rooms with endless loops of stairs or a quilt turning into birds or the two hands drawing each other. Bach? “Ah, Bach,” as Radar said in MASH to his woman-friend. The author, Douglas R. Hofstadter whom I will now refer to as “the guy” because I am not typing that again, wanted to show us the way music and math and art all weave into each other through the Socratic thought process. I think. It is pretty tough to explain. The guy wants us to think of things in new ways and to question everything. Everything. I gave my daughter an example, “Is one and one always two?” Of course it is. But what if two raindrops were running down a window and joined? One and one are one in that case.

I think I have been reading it about a week –I am on page 71- and I hear something every day that makes me think of this book. Today on NPR (I listen to a lot of radio) they were talking about audio loops on TV shows, where you hear stuff going on in the background. They pay people to wander around and say random things so they can weave it through the dialogue you are supposed to be listening to. Background noise. I am just reading about negative space in art and math and music. *lightbulb lights up*

After a month, I will decide if I can get through this book. I don’t think I will be taking it to the beach this summer, although I probably could since the last person checked it out in 2002. They still use the little paper in the front of the book. No barcode or anything. Maybe GEB will help me with my seventh grade math homework. I have promised myself I will only read this or the book our book group is reading this month until I decide if I can handle it. My brain hasn’t been required to do this kind of thinking since I was in college and it may no longer be capable of deep thought.

I pointed out to my mother that I will not likely be tested over this, so if I find myself not understanding a concept I can just keep going until I get to something that makes more sense. So far that has worked.

Have any of you read this? Can you describe it better?