Was it Borges who proposed, in order to thwart readers who skip to the end of the mystery and spoil it for themselves, to end the story some number of pages before the end of the book? But it wouldn't do to leave the rest of the pages blank, or print obvious filler on them, for that would be too easy to skip past. Instead the rest of the pages would be filled with words that appeared to be part of the story, but were not the story themselves. Only the subtlest of readers would discern the transition from story to filler.

Anyway, if that is the goal Gregory Chaitin set for himself in writing Meta-Math!, he has succeeded, less subtly than Borges would have. The book is a hyperbolic riff on mathematical theology related to Kolmogorov complexity, that inexplicably fails to mention Kolmogorov; it invokes Godwin's Law on page 101. All the rest must be chaff. Or at least, someone else can tell me that it's chaff; I'm not going to read it.



Comments:

atheorist:
2006-12-10T15:34:16Z
Hofstadter mentioned the mystery filler idea in GEB, but he might have stole it from Borges.
11011110:
2006-12-14T05:42:24Z
There must be an internet law that all interesting ideas for structures of fictions should be attributed to Borges, whether he really invented them or not.
None: It is!
2006-12-11T16:16:12Z
All the rest must be chaff. Or at least, someone else can tell me that it's chaff; I'm not going to read it. It is! Every book of Chaitin -- AIT may be an exception, but there are better references for AIT -- is "chaff," IMHO. Either he is the next Grothendieck -- doing something like developing Lebegue's theory all by himself -- or he chooses to ignore Kolmogorov and Solomonoff. One thing that I noticed in his writings (read "self praise") is that he never forgets to compare himself to Gödel and Turing. -- AG
None: Re: It is!
2006-12-14T04:34:47Z
There's a beautiful review of AIT by Peter Gacs in the Journal of Symbolic Logic in 1989. My favorite sentence is this: Another important goal of the book is the rewriting of the history of the field (in the author's words, "a smoothed-over story"), presenting the author as the sole inventor of its main concepts and results.
None: Punchline in the middle
2006-12-24T03:35:58Z
The "Borges idea" is also seen in movies (In the realm of senses?) where the main point of the movie appears some time before the end, and the tail is filled with exotic, exciting things that are visually interesting, but have no bearing on the main message of the movie.