It may be a bit of an odd choice for the season of holiday cheer, family, warmth, and general emotional free-for-fall, but I couldn’t resist the intellectual treat proffered by Apostolos Doxiadis (and crew)’s Logicomix. Besides, what’s the harm in bringing a little logic to the mix of the holiday season?
Well, according to Logicomix, the harm might be madness itself. Doxiadis (and crew) take on a hefty charge in this tome of a graphic novel – a sort of Odysseian quest for truth. Only the heroes of this quest are waify European nerds who brandish philosophy and logic as their mighty weapons. The book follows the life of Bertrand Russell as told by Russell himself in the form of a lecture to a mixed audience of scholars and WWII protesters.
With frequent (and admittedly incredibly useful) interruptions by the caricatures of the artists and writers to explain to us simple-minded folk some of the philosophi-mathemati-logical concepts, the story quickly progresses from simple “auto”-biography to a story of the ideas that these great philosophers wrestle, in many cases at the expense of their sanity.
Like any good comic, Logicomix establishes its own universe where ideas are the monsters to be championed and the heroes are the likes of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Henri Poincare, Alfred North Whitehead, and Kurt Godel (to name a few). The superheroes who took it upon themselves to establish a solid foundation for mathematics, whose work made possible our present technological way of life (i.e. computers, programming, the internet).
But enough praise for the characters, because the book is much more than a boring recounting of these lives. It is indeed a novel, full of complex emotional trials, an investigation of the human experience, the meaning of life and the world, and even sums up nicely with some take home point and moral. And all of this achieved without sacrificing artistic nuance.
Logicomix steps outside of the formulaic and becomes what the late Harvey Pekar saw as the potential of comics; it’s ability to do more. With entrancing visuals, a beautifully woven plot, and deeply nuanced characters, Doxiadis and crew set a new standard with this work. Comics really can do anything.
The Gist: Logic + Art = Cool; and Art + Plot = Awesome.
Logicomix = Art + Plot + Logic
==> Logicomix = Cool and Awesome.
About the Creators:
Apostolos Doxiadis & Christos H. Papadimitriou wrote this beast drawing on their backgrounds in mathematics and computer science respectively. Alecos Papdatos and Annie Di Donna are the perpetrators of the perfect-for-this-story, incredibly relatable art. Read more about the book and the folk on their nicely designed and informative website: http://www.logicomix.com/en/