"Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid."

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"Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid."

#1  Postby pearlgirl » Mar 30, 2010 4:22 am

by Douglas Hofstadter
I saw it at a chain bookstore and are now looking for it at Half-Priced Books or a used bookstore.
It is a long, complicated book. Has anyone read it?
:thumbup: or :thumbdown:
:ask:
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Re: "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid."

#3  Postby j.mills » Mar 30, 2010 5:04 pm

Not always the easiest of reads, but certainly one of the most intellectually thrilling. It's a roller-coaster ride of intertwined ideas, witty, mind-bending and ingenious. If it's about any one thing, it's artificial intelligence, but there is so much in it that you learn about all sorts. And alternate chapters are lightweight 'fugues' - amusing dialogues that explore the ideas just discussed. Well worth your time even if you only read those easy bits. Blew my mind as a tender youth. Go for it. :thumbup: :clap: :cheers:
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Re: "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid."

#4  Postby Mr P » Mar 31, 2010 8:29 am

j.mills wrote:Not always the easiest of reads, but certainly one of the most intellectually thrilling. It's a roller-coaster ride of intertwined ideas, witty, mind-bending and ingenious. If it's about any one thing, it's artificial intelligence, but there is so much in it that you learn about all sorts. And alternate chapters are lightweight 'fugues' - amusing dialogues that explore the ideas just discussed. Well worth your time even if you only read those easy bits. Blew my mind as a tender youth. Go for it. :thumbup: :clap: :cheers:

+1

Admittedly not the easiest of reads (the chapter on computer languages was a struggle :oops: ) but then that's part of what makes it such an important work. As J. Mills says the fugues and interludes can clarify some of the more complicated ideas and add a slightly light hearted touch to the book as well as a few literary and linguistic games (one interlude has a hidden message within a hidden message just to see if you can spot it... plus there are other examples).

The topic is artificial intelligence and along the way he introduces us to the importance of self-reference, tangled hierarchies, strange loops and other ideas influencing the way we think about consciousness. When writing about the nature of consciousness he's the one who takes it the furthest without making any appeal to the mysterious and without losing any sense of wonder.
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Re: "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid."

#5  Postby tnjrp » Mar 31, 2010 8:38 am

Yep, read it back in the late 1980's. Can't say I remember too much of the exact details tho but was rather impressed by it IIRC.
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Re: "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid."

#6  Postby Macdoc » Mar 31, 2010 8:49 am

Brilliant book and no not an easy read.

You may want to try Koestler's Act of Creation which was seminal for me in forming a worldview of how things fit within our biology and perception of reality.
He also interweaves fields as diverse as science, math poetry and jokes....in a unified approach based on our biology and psychology.

There is quite the biblio here for those interested

http://www.robertpepperell.com/Posthum/biblio.htm
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Re: "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid."

#7  Postby pearlgirl » Mar 31, 2010 6:58 pm

I started it today. The book is itself a large intellectual fugue. Thanks for your input. I'll keep you posted. Cheers.
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Re: "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid."

#8  Postby Weaver » Mar 31, 2010 8:15 pm

My father turned me onto it when it first came out, and I've found my own copy in a used-book store. It's not something I sit down and read cover-to-cover, but I tend to skim around. Very instructive and intellectually stimulating.
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Re: "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid."

#9  Postby debunk » Mar 31, 2010 8:18 pm

It's one of the few books I've reread again and again, I'm on my third copy right now.
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Re: "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid."

#10  Postby Calilasseia » Apr 05, 2010 8:42 pm

One of the reviewers of this book, back in the early 1980s, described it as "a workout in the best mental gymnasium in town".

That comment still holds true 30 years later.

Buy it. It'll be a treasured addition to your bookshelf once you've worked your way through it. Oh, and once you've made it to the end, you'll find that the book is structured in the manner of the Endlessly Rising Canon, but with a twist - the end of the book inspires you to go back to the beginning and re-read it again, but this time, on a higher level of abstraction. Just as the Endlessly Rising Canon starts on a given set of notes, and at the end returns to them, but shifted one octave higher. :)
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Re: "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid."

#11  Postby pearlgirl » Apr 06, 2010 11:12 pm

@Cali,
I bought it and started it last week; thus far it is excellent. I am very excited and inspired by the author's proclivity to abstractions. I found it at Half-Priced Books (a used book store) for $10. That was nice too. I was a bit hesitant that what is being espoused will be dated, as, the book was published in 1979--I was fucking 5 years old. Well, anyway, so far so good. When I finish it I will probably write a critical essay about it...
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Re: "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid."

#12  Postby natselrox » Apr 18, 2010 4:26 am

Calilasseia wrote:Oh, and once you've made it to the end, you'll find that the book is structured in the manner of the Endlessly Rising Canon, but with a twist - the end of the book inspires you to go back to the beginning and re-read it again, but this time, on a higher level of abstraction. Just as the Endlessly Rising Canon starts on a given set of notes, and at the end returns to them, but shifted one octave higher. :)


Brilliantly said! :thumbup:
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Re: "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid."

#13  Postby hotshoe » Apr 18, 2010 5:03 am

Makes me want to re-read it. I might understand it better.
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Re: "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid."

#14  Postby natselrox » Jun 04, 2010 12:22 pm

I just bought it. Will read it after a few days.
When in perplexity, read on.

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Re: "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid."

#15  Postby pearlgirl » Jun 08, 2010 12:45 am

@ Natselrox: I am still reading it even now. It is definitely a read not to be rushed. Hofstadter is quite the humorist, too, I am noting. My boyfriend almost convinced me to read Hofstadter's second book, "I am a Strange Loop" instead; he suggested that I might understand GEB better after I read it. I stand by reading GEB first, as, it is a much more difficult and challenging read.
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Re: "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid."

#16  Postby fluxbox » Jun 08, 2010 1:20 am

GEB is my all time favourite book. Despite that I've read it in English and Spanish, I'm sure I haven't grasped it entirely. That leaves fun for the next readings.

When I write posts such that start with "GEB is my all time favourite book", followed by a list of languages in which I have read it, then an allegedly funny comment and finally a paragraph where I explain what happens when I write posts such that start with "GEB is my all time favourite book", followed by a list of languages in which I have read it, then an allegedly funny comment and finally a paragraph where I explain what happens when I write posts such that start with "GEB is my all time favourite book", followed by a list of languages in which I have read it, then an allegedly funny comment and finally a paragraph where I explain what happens when I write posts such that...
... I feel good. :lol:
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Re: "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid."

#17  Postby rEvolutionist » Jun 08, 2010 1:23 am

pearlgirl wrote:by Douglas Hofstadter
I saw it at a chain bookstore and are now looking for it at Half-Priced Books or a used bookstore.
It is a long, complicated book. Has anyone read it?
:thumbup: or :thumbdown:
:ask:


Couldn't get all the way through it. Will make another attempt some day.
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Re: "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid."

#18  Postby Paul Almond » Jun 08, 2010 1:32 am

I have a copy of it and like it.
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Re: "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid."

#19  Postby pearlgirl » Jun 08, 2010 1:40 am

fluxbox wrote:GEB is my all time favourite book. Despite that I've read it in English and Spanish, I'm sure I haven't grasped it entirely. That leaves fun for the next readings.

When I write posts such that start with "GEB is my all time favourite book", followed by a list of languages in which I have read it, then an allegedly funny comment and finally a paragraph where I explain what happens when I write posts such that start with "GEB is my all time favourite book", followed by a list of languages in which I have read it, then an allegedly funny comment and finally a paragraph where I explain what happens when I write posts such that start with "GEB is my all time favourite book", followed by a list of languages in which I have read it, then an allegedly funny comment and finally a paragraph where I explain what happens when I write posts such that...
... I feel good. :lol:



You ARE a Strange Loop! :cheers: :)
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Re: "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid."

#20  Postby orpheus » Jun 08, 2010 2:08 am

pearlgirl wrote:@ Natselrox: I am still reading it even now. It is definitely a read not to be rushed. Hofstadter is quite the humorist, too, I am noting. My boyfriend almost convinced me to read Hofstadter's second book, "I am a Strange Loop" instead; he suggested that I might understand GEB better after I read it. I stand by reading GEB first, as, it is a much more difficult and challenging read.


Actually, "I Am A Strange Loop" is something like Hofstadter's 5th or 6th book. All are worthwhile. Of particular interest is an anthology co-edited with Dan Dennett called "The Mind's I". It's a great selection of essays and stories that explore some of the same issues GEB raises (among others). Hofstadter and Dennett provide insightful - and sometimes lengthy - commentaries.

:cheers:
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