Godel, Escher, Bach (Book Review)

Oh my, this book is every bit as delightful as I had imagined it would be.

To be clear, I had slated this book as my “summer” read, imagining I would have stolen myself to an island somewhere to curl up alongside this book. But life found me in a data engineering fellowship in Palo Alto instead, drinking an endless stream of La Croix (La Croixes?) whilst building streaming pipelines and occassionaly drawing inspiration from the large bronze statue of Nikola Tesla that stood outside the office.

In San Francisco, summer shows up a smidge late, so it is the first week of November that I’ve been given a second crack at this whirlwind tour of logic, math, and the underpinnings of consciosness (both organic and otherwise).

This book thesis proclaims itself on page 82 as follows, “In my opinion, in fact, the key element in answering the question ‘What is consciousness?’ will be the unraveling of the nature of the ‘isomorphism’ which underlines meaning.” The dance between the works of Godel, Escher, and Bach sets up an ideal garden to explore isomorphisms, that is to say complete between domains where all critical information is preserved. What constititues the “domains” (or domain and co-domain) and “information” is addressed in each particular case, but the goal of the first part of the book is to bring ismorphism itself, as a flavor of meaning-preserving and, relatedly, meaning-observing, to the foreground. And this is perhaps why my gut has been pulling me towards the book. A poetic treament of why we would want to study topology at all (although topology proper is not mentioned directly in the book).