Principles of Nature: towards a new visual language© copyright 2003 Wayne Roberts. All rights reserved.
Music’s inclusiveness of ‘new’ and ‘old’
The new paradigm presented here de-stresses the modern over-emphasis upon ‘uniqueness’ and values the old from a new perspective, by uniting the two in terms of musical resonance and modulation —something which is new and old at one and the same time.
In this way then, this book stands within a long tradition of people who have worked, and are working, in both the humanities and sciences, whose dreams and hopes harmonise and resonate with similar concerns. I have already acknowledged my indebtedness to the Pythagorean idea that the whole cosmos is like a musical scale and a number. That grand idea has very much inspired the tenor and content of this book written millennia later.
Michael Faraday was another who also imagined a ‘universal connecting principle’, an idea that was many years ahead of its time. John Gribbin describes Faraday’s vision of the universe, of atoms, and forces (J Gribbin, 2003, pp. 422—423):
Instead of treating an atom as a physical entity that lay at the centre of a web of forces and was the reason for the existence of those forces, Faraday proposed to his audience that it made more sense to regard the web of forces as having the underlying reality, with atoms only existing as concentrations in the lines of force...
Ian Stewart, ends his book Nature’s Numbers, Discovering order and pattern in the universe, with an epilogue entitled, ‘Morphomatics’. In it, he anticipates a future visual and dynamic language, an extension to mathematics as it presently exists. In his own words (I Stewart, 1995, pp.147—150),
We need an effective mathematical theory of form, which is why I call my dream “morphomatics.”…Our previous mathematical schemes were themselves too inflexible, geared to the constraints of pencil and paper…It’s time we started putting the bits together.
EH Gombrich ends a most scholarly art history book with a chapter entitled, Some Musical Analogies. Here he sees music as somehow pointing the way to a new future for art , and a visual language of form,
… what we need is patience. It takes time for a system of conventions to crystallize till every subtle variation counts. Maybe we would be more likely to achieve a new language of form if we were less obsessed with novelty and with change. If we overload the system we lose the support of our sense of order. (EH Gombrich, 1984, p. 305.)