Mandelbrot was a visionary mathematician in the tradition of exploration of our world via math and science that dates back at least to Ur and probably earlier. He is very much in the tradition of those visionary wizards, healers, and holy men/women who, via their insights (some discovered via the use of mind altering drugs) assisted humanity to live better lives both spiritually and physically. He reminds me of a modern day ceremonial magician, the precursor of our modern scientist; although I’m pretty sure he didn’t draw protective circles on the floor of his workroom and conjure up spirits to give him assistance….Al Jibbr, Newton, and Copernicus would have been proud to see the development of their work in this way.
He brought back the essential understanding of the whole contained in each part, and each part expressing the whole. This understanding was forgotten during the Enlightenment period and is responsible for the progression of the Industrial Age. After all, if the world is merely an automaton, with no inherent life and no sacredness, exploitation by its very nature is no sin. Things only have value relative to their ability to be used, from people to land, to minerals and other species. This is why we’ve used up most of the value and have the mess we have now. Mandelbrot brought back the sense of the whole, the old time Pagan sensibility that the part is more than a piece of the whole, even if you don’t understand quite how, and that what affects one part affects the whole in ways you probably won’t understand for quite a while. It reminds us that we are a part of the whole, and reflect the whole in our being, from cell up to organism.
Mandelbrot’s work makes the work of experimental and theoretical physicists possible in many ways, because it allows the ‘messiness’ of the real world to be mathematically accounted for. This article about entanglement and the possibilities it raises about the nature of the whole to the parts, merely reminds us that those ancient pioneers were on to something, that they were paying better attention than many of our best scientists over the last 150 years. It brings us back to an earlier time in the circle, or spiral if you like. Same song, new verse.
He died earlier this week, and in the best tradition of our collective history of ancestor worship, deserves to become a demigod or at least a saint. I’ll be lighting a candle in his memory when we remember the ancestors later this month.
Thank you for the life work, and good journey to you, Mr. Mandelbrot.