Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0014205, Tue, 28 Nov 2006 19:18:01 +0000

Re: R: [NABOKV-L] "Pale Fire" GS to CHW
On 5/11/06 17:34, "Chaswe@AOL.COM" <Chaswe@AOL.COM> wrote:

> In a message dated 05/11/2006 16:38:38 GMT Standard Time,
> gshiman@OPTONLINE.NET writes:
>> That is outside of Nabokov-L but, Charles, here is fascinating modern sample
>> of what you describe. In short it is about Jewish mathematic genius from
>> Russia, Grisha Perelman, who chose not to play it safe after becoming
>> ³conspicuous² person. G-d bless him.
>> http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/060828fa_fact2
> George,
> This is a fascinating article, full of quotable comments from Perelman. It is
> long, and I must take some time to digest it.
> Did VN ever refuse any prizes, literary or otherwise? It is of course totally
> true that Establishment approval of anything is intellectually worthless, but
> financially helpful. In the case of genuine genius it is nearly always belated
> -- but, as always, there are exceptions.
> Charles
> George/Charles: I agree that Nasar & Gruber [N & G] have produced a most
> readable ³human-interest² New Yorker piece on subjects that bristle with both
> specific technicalities (the Poincare Comjecture [PC]) and more general
> problems (the nature of mathematical proof and the all-too-human urge to claim
> precedence). On the former, N & G don¹t make it clear that the PC as
> originally mooted circa 1902 applies generally to manifolds of dimension N.
> For N = 0 and N = 1, PC is trivially true. N & G mention Freedman¹s proof for
> N = 4 but fail to honour Stephen Smale (with whom I was privileged to study)
> who proved PC for all N >= 5. So, that¹s why the N = 3 case remained ‹ a
> strange challenge since 3-dimensional space is what we all master before the
> age of 2.
> Smale was a fine up-yours rebel (not unlike Perelman) but had no qualms about
> accepting his Fields medal (1966). In fact, his sublimated grouse at the time
> was: why didn¹t he get it in 1962! See
> http://www.ams.org/notices/200011/rev-kirby.pdf
> There is, as always, a Nabokovian link ‹ Smale as commie agitator protesting
> at a Moscow maths conference.
> I worked with another Fiields medalist, Rene Thom (creator Catastrophe
> Theory), and met many others. Entre nous, they are ALL stark, effin¹ MAD!
> BUT if you seek a genuine weirdo genius who makes Smale, Perelman and even
> Newton look like clean, conforming Mormon missionaries (³Don¹t quite see why I
> write in this vein²**), I offer Alexander Grothendieck ‹ yes, another Russian
> Jew, born Berlin 1928 ‹ his father murdered at Auschwitz 1942 -- but where is
> Grothendieck now? Nobody knows if he¹s dead or alive. He just walked away in
> August 1991 ‹ last seen in the Pyrenees. He accepted the Fields Medal pronto,
> but later on turned down the equally enriching Crafoord Prize from the Swedish
> Royal Academy of Sciences. He did have the courtesy to write a sweet Œmerci¹:
> ³Je suis persuade que la seule epreuve decisive pour la fecundite d¹idees ou
> d¹une vision nouvelles est celle du temps. La fecunditite se reconnait par la
> progeniture, et non par les honneurs²
> ** Chap. 1: Despair (Otchayanie) -- VN
> Charles: I would be wary of confusing agenda-driven Œestablishments¹ such as
> the Nobel Prize
> Committee esp. for Literature with the mathematics Œcommunity,¹ the various
> mathematical associations that hand out the gongs and cabbage. When you¹ve
> digested N & G, I think you¹ll see the differences. As a member of the MAA, I
> was a recipient of Perelman¹s initial email ‹ and it¹s since been heavily
> debated Œin-house¹ with no peep in the popular pess until Perelman¹s rejection
> of the Fileds Medal. Some of us will always consider Grishka as a ŒFields
> Medalist!¹ Others consider that his rejection was COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE. He
> could have remained LESS CONSPICUOUS by quietly accepting it! How many of you
> can NAME the other 3 recipients for 2006?? IF Perelman is offered the Clay
> Institute $1 million (or share thereof -- it may take 2 years to validate
> who-proved-what-when), he is wisely reserving his judgement re-acceptance. The
> funds could be well spent in St Petersburg ‹ Grothendieck used much of his
> prize moneys to fund his ecological venture ³Survivre et Vivre,²
> BTW: there¹s a nice MYTH about why there¹s no NOBEL PRIZE for Mathematics.
> Some say that Nobel¹s wife had an affair with a mathematician while he was
> planning his categories. NOT SO! The bugger never married!
> Several mathematicians HAVE won the Nobel ‹ but for their work in Economics.
> My guess is that VN would have proudly accepted the Nobel for Lit ‹ it¹s a
> SCANDALE that he was never offered it. We know that J P Sartre *** was forced
> to refuse under CP pressure. Pasternak too?
> *** refered to snidely as a ³Communist reviwer² in VN¹s Foreword to ŒDespair.¹
> PS: two snippets from the NY article.
> Ultimately, he received several job offers. But he declined them all, and in
> the summer of 1995 returned to St. Petersburg, to his old job at the Steklov
> Institute, where he was paid less than a hundred dollars a month. (He told a
> friend that he had saved enough money in the United States to live on for the
> rest of his life.) .
> //
> The Internet made it possible for Perelman to work alone while continuing to
> tap a common pool of knowledge. Perelman searched Hamilton¹s papers for clues
> to his thinking and gave several seminars on his work.
> Stan Kelly-Bootle

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