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January 26, 2005

Solution-Satisfaction

There is something so peaceful, satisfying, humbling, and beautiful about math.

In music, there are no hard and fast answers. Striving to create great art is a long, slow, arduous, often torturous process of wild swings. Moments of supreme confidence that one is "in the zone," writing truly great music, music that perfectly achieves the intended effect, to inspire, to elate, to communicate the essence of one's soul—those moments are interspersed with wild torrents of hate, disappointment, and self-deprecation, when no matter what one tries to do, the creation is flawed, fundamentally, awfully, a horrifying mess of mediocrity, or worse.

Math is the opposite. It is cool, calm, and objective. Even in the face of insoluble problems, approximation leads one incrementally closer to perfection. The steady march, stroll, even sometimes run toward the solutions not yet achieved goes ever on. It advances. One sees it advance. I, who am yet a beginning student of the vast discipline, can say to myself, "It's a small step, but I know more today than yesterday." Those great women and men on the leading edges of mathematics, I surmise, can say similar things, though no doubt the search causes them more than a little stress.

I have many refuges. Math, programming, physics, hiking, climbing. Music is one of my life's main paths, but when it gets too harsh, and the machete cuts not through the thicket, when I feel wholly lost in the forest and uninspired... almost invariably, without any intention on my part, I gravitate toward these peaceful pursuits. I follow them with the same passion, but it's easier.

Toward the end of the composition process of this brass choir piece, I started spending less of my enthusiasm on composition, and more on signal processing algorithms. I want to understand wavelet transformations. That's my pet project now. And it's beautiful. Every day I grasp a little more, and it excites me... but nothing about the journey toward understanding makes me hate myself for even a moment. Haha. :) That's simply refreshing.

Posted by crock038 at January 26, 2005 12:08 PM | Rambling

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