I love mathematics.
And, yes, occasionally this means hating it very intensely. That’s amore, right?
I love its clarity, unambiguity and distance from the usual human messiness. I love its inapplicable complexity and its useless simplicity – and when there are physicists around, I usually even manage to appreciate its applications.
Not always, but usually. And I try to refrain from biting when they prostitute our beautiful formulae and take their (*sob*) rough and forced numerical approximations.
I think that if you aren’t a man enough to calculate the exact value, you ain’t a man at all.
This kind of approach to life is why no-one gives me any sharp objects, I fear.
Don’t misunderstand me here – I think that physics is beautiful as well, and it happens to be the truest, most elegant and most successful method ever devised to learn about the grand structure of this world that we so selfishly call ours. And what physics doesn’t cover, is capably and with elegant grace explained by biology, psychology, chemistry, and all the other disciplines of scientific inquiry. They aren’t always right, but they do correct their mistakes and tear down all their false ideas, sooner or later, and that is the greatest part of their beauty.
In mathematics you don’t meddle with evidence; you have concrete proofs, even if of intangible things. You have the entire world of abstractions as your playing-field, and only your imagination and supply of pencils as the limit. Everything is well defined and rigorously applied; all reduces to basic definitions and initial assumptions, and those can be changed at will, generating new worlds of wonder, and new scenes of great curiosity.
Mathematics is very useful, but that is not the point to me. There is splendour in physics with its ellipses and accelerations, but the magnificence of mathematics is something else – beauty untouched by any corporeal corruption, grace unstained by the touch of framing and fudging, and intertwined complexity and simplicity extending farther than any eye can ever see.
There is no need to ask for the utility or physical existence of a mathematical result: just admire its beauty, for it is a work of art. Books lose their sting and poems their freshness as their language falls into disuse, then into oblivion. Statues crumble, paintings fade, buildings decay, and even expressions lose their nuances, and then their meaning. Mathematics is forever. Its language is logic, which is eternal, and its ideas are abstractions which the ages cannot alter or distort.
Mathematics is the science of structure, the art of world-building. Physics, biology, astronomy – all its elegant expressions in the structure of the universe are unspeakably grubby and inferior compared to its pure incorporeal beauty.
For a mind seeking eternal beauty and truth there is but one heaven, and every mathematician since Thales has been its prophet.