Monday, September 25, 2006

Waterhouse And The Hindenberg

What do we make of Waterhouse and the Hindenburg? The trip to Lakehurst and his bicycle tour of the airfield are written of almost as a dream. Lawrence doens't betray any understanding of what's going on while actually witnessing the scene; a scene with the famous tag-line "Oh, the humanity." When he speaks about it the next day with Alan and Rudy, he passes it off as a dream. And then it is never mentioned again. In part, this seems to feed into Waterhouse's "Forrest Gump" problem, but is there some greater meaning that I'm missing? Is there some mathematics insight that comes from viewing the still flaming skeleton? The next day he has, more or less, reinvented information theory. What is the connection?


Blogger Bret said...

When he got to examine the inside of a pipe organ he also seemed to go into a dream like state (or maybe that time it was just metaphorical?). So I assumed, that when he's in the throes of serious contemplation, he doesn't have enough neurons left over to maintain a coherent consciousness at the same time and ends up in this sort of weird semi-transcendental state.

It also seems likes he's borderline (or not so borderline) autistic, so this early in the book, his conscious observations are all very suspicious.

I don't see any direct connection between his observations of the burning zep and information theory, but perhaps I just lack imagination.

4:35 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

You are right that Waterhouse is the worst of the worst in terms of characterization. (BTW, the best-developed character in my view is Goto Dengo.) He is simply too old to play the idiot savant he has been cast in. We can accept an eleven year old prodigy convinced he is a hayseed, but someone who attends Princeton with Turing and is then is found happily playing the glockenspiel at Pearl Harbour unaware of the signifiance of a couple of hundred planes bombing around him is too much.

As to the math, I await help.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

I also think that Goto Dengo is the best (developed) character. He's the only one that I find even vaguely likeable in the entire book (so far).

Can you identify a specific bit of math that you need help with? Though I wouldn't worry about it too much. I'm a math guy, but I don't think that understanding the math really matters much.

5:34 PM  
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