Thanks for that, Jesse. History-by-Hollywood has been my downfall
before...scriptwriter Akiva Goldsman should perhaps get six cuts of
the school cane for using such a high degree of creative licence with
the facts. A "Best Movie" vote seems to screw up one's scholarly
instincts to check the truth of the matter. Goldsman has been
mercifully truer to the original with his job on "The Da Vinci Code" ;)
Nevertheless, do we see any interest in Nash's flitting in and out of
"sanity" and the corresponding strengthening and weakening of his
maths genius? As a reasonable (= non-schizo) machine he seemed
capable of a form of almost transcendental mathematical perception -
possibly almost as fabulous as Bruno's :) - during his extensive
schizophrenic interludes, a different form of perception seemed to
hold sway. Was he tripping between parallel versions of himself - or
what? The relevance to the discussion (for me) lies in his apparent
inabilty to choose his mental orientation. In both (opposing) mental
states he was being true to himself. He was surely a plural-self.
Maybe the imposition of a certain chemistry is the key to a
multiversal (ie non-linear) perception of self. Don't experiment with
this thought at home, though.....
On 28/05/2006, at 11:18 AM, Jesse Mazer wrote:
> Kim Jones wrote:
>> Well, in the case of schizoid mathematician John Nash, his
>> "psychotic" behaviour was also clearly linked to his maths ability.
>> After imbibing anti-psychotic medication, not only did his "unreal"
>> friends disappear, but his mathematical perception as well.
> I don't think that's true, my understanding is that once he became
> schizophrenic he no longer did any useful mathematical work, just
> numerology. In discussing the movie, the wikipedia entry at
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Beautiful_Mind says:
> "The movie also misrepresents the effect Nash's mental illness had
> on his
> work. The movie depicts Nash as already suffering from
> schizophrenia when he
> wrote his doctoral thesis. In reality, Nash's schizophrenia did not
> until years later and once it did his mathematical work ceased
> until he was
> able to bring it under control."
> And the page at http://www.pnas.org/misc/classics5.shtml says that
> he once
> again started doing useful work after his recovery:
> "In 1970, Nash moved back to Princeton, where he took to shuffling
> the halls of the mathematics building, occasionally scribbling
> numerological messages on the walls. Students referred to him as the
> "Phantom of Fine Hall."
> Gradually, however, Nash's mental condition began to improve.
> rarely disappears completely, but by the 1990s Nash appeared to
> have made a
> remarkable recovery, and he had turned once again to mathematical
> The wikipedia article elaborates on what his recent work has been
> "The 1990s brought a return of his genius, and Nash has taken care
> to manage
> the symptoms of his mental illness. He is still hoping to score
> scientific results. His recent work involves ventures in advanced game
> theory including partial agency which show that, as in his early
> career, he
> prefers to select his own path and problems (though he continues to
> work in
> a communal setting to assist in managing his illness)."
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