Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Math in We

Math (for the most part) is absolute. The answers are either right or wrong, black or white and no grey area. There is a precision to it. I think this is how Zamyatin writes about his One State. He talks about how all the activities are governed by the state, you live by the rules or you can be liquefied. There is a precision to the lives there. D-503's preoccupations with math can really help illustrate this "right or wrong" view of the One State.
Zamyatin's choice of an engineer as a protagonist helped make this correlation to the One State and Mathematics. Maybe with another profession the person would have been more likely to question things, since in math you are more satisfied with an answer and less curious with how you got to the answer, or if there are other possible answers. D-503 starts off as a content person with his life in the One State. He is is satisfied with the life in the view of the world through a mathematicians eyes.

4 Comments:

Blogger Simon Says said...

I agree partially with your comparison of math to the One State, but I do not believe that either is absolute. Math's square root of negative one, and disobedience to the One State seem to be important not-so-absolute factors. The fact that there is disorder in the system appears to represent how there is always another way looking at life...and that the One State may not be as perfect as it is played up to be.

1:08 AM  
Blogger mina said...

I agree with you that the answers in math are either "right or wrong, black or white". But what do you think of the square root of negative one? I think that because it is an imaginary number, it sparks up a different idea and represents color. I like your second paragraph when talking about Zamyatin's choice of someone like D-503 as the protagonist. I agree that if the author had chosen a non mathematical person like maybe R-13 (the poet), this book would be the complete opposite since R-13 is a creative/ right brained thinker. Instead of numbers, we as the readers would probably see more colors and imagery using emotions and descriptive words.

4:14 AM  
Blogger Jordan said...

I do agree with you that math is relatively comparable with the One State, that in both there exists a concept of a "right" and a "wrong", with no gray area. It seems that everyone is referring to the square root of negative one as a case of something that is not, in fact, absolute, and to this I am not sure what to think. Although irrational numbers are not cut-and-dry, I have to wonder: Is "i" (the square root of negative 1) not a substitutional format the achieves the purpose of making this "imperfect" mathematic subject simplified? The square root of negative one is graphable, observable, and measurable as an answer. I guess all that I really wanted to throw out there was: is "i" really all that imperfect?

8:04 AM  
Blogger Danny said...

I think we can rephrase the idea of math being wrong or right to just being logical. I mean in a sense that there are usually proofs for the different concepts in math. I think it is this logical thought process which should be compared to the One State. The actions by I-330 could also be considered illogical in a sense she is disobeying the rules of the society. We can then begin to ask questions about why she is doing this and come up with a logical conclusion.

9:29 AM  

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