Monday, April 28, 2008

A brilliant madness

Mathematicians, across all types of fiction and non-fiction literature, tend to posses this elitist quality, which causes them to have trouble conforming in society. This quality may not actually be common to all mathematicians, but it is a popularly recurring trait among mathematical characters throughout literature. John Nash, in the documentary A Brilliant Madness, is no exception to this. "[John Nash] thought of himself as superior, intellectually, [and] mathematically superior" to his colleagues, and other mathematicians (Mel Hausner, A Brilliant Madness). He thought of himself as the best and "was only interested in people who could operate more or less on the same mental level that he was at" (Felix Browder, A Brilliant Madness). He definitely thought of himself as at the top, but he was not getting the recognition for it. Nash's elitist quality is really exaggerated when he becomes mentally ill with paranoid schizophrenia, "a severe mental illness, characterized by hallucinations, delusions or peculiar forms of thinking" (Louis Sass, A Brilliant Madness). Based on his delusions, it is clear how important he thought he was to the world. "John talked about the people from outer space who were destroying his career, [...] the international organizations that were attacking him," and he thought he was "the messenger of Allah" (Harold Kuhn, John Nash, A Brilliant Madness). In his delusion he is put in a situation where his work is very important to the world. Even in his delusions he was an elitist.

1 comment:

jmartinez said...

I think it's funny how Nash was a schizo AND arrogant. With an attitude like that I'm surprised he even got married and had a kid.