Outstreched arm

Saturday, April 21, 2007

On Hofstadter's "I Am A Strange Loop"

I wrote this in an email to my friend Bill:

Speaking of books, I just finished Hofstadter's new work, I Am A Strange Loop. It's a strange book, indeed, though I guess that's just par for Hofstadter's course. His wife's death seems to have affected him quite a bit (most obvious sentence ever written?) His books following it are noticeably lacking in humor and wit. That's understandable, but also unfortunate.

It has many intriguing and entertaining parts, and he advances a novel idea or two, but it feels a little slapdash. It's puzzling to read a book of his that doesn't feel all that well... "organized", shall we say. Or perhaps that's the most Hofstadter thing about it. GEB certainly suffers from a similar lack of focus and outline, but it works in its charming, funhouse way.

Long-time followers will find much to appreciate but if it's your first book by him, you might go, Who is this guy and what's the big deal?

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