2009-04-12 Content AND Presentation (en)

I would like to welcome everyone on this new and old blog. (New, because what you see is the first English entry; old, because it’s Polish version (http://mbork.pl/Blog) has more than two years.)

I chose the title for this blog to emphasize that it is both the content and presentation that I consider important. It is obvious that without interesting content, good presentation is worthless; but even the best content poorly presented is often miserable.

You might be curious what this blog will really be about. Well, the Polish version is devoted in (roughly) 80% to (Roman-Catholic) religion and in 20% to TeX and mathematics. I expect that the proportions in the English edition (which will be independent, i.e., only sometimes the same article will appear twice, as an original work and a translation) will be approximately inverse - mainly because my English vocabulary is much larger when speaking about TeX and much smaller when talking about faith. How things are going to develop, however, I don’t know. For certain, all these subjects (religion, maths and TeX) will be present, possibly with occasional rants on different subjects.

As for religion, I will probably most often quote people wiser than me, with occasional thoughts of my humble person. Even if you are not a Roman Catholic (nor even Christian), these topics might be of interest for you, for the Church had a lot of really wise men over the ages (to be precise, by “men” I mean here “human beings”, the meaning now mostly abandoned because of the political correctness dictatorship, which I actively fight against).

As for mathematics, I am not going to write too much about my personal research (which, on the other hand, however fascinating, is most probably not very interesing for most people; it is metric fixed point theory and metric geometry, in case you want to know), but rather about beautiful, amusing or interesting things in elementary mathematics.

As for TeX, I will very often write about typographic nuances which are seldom noticed, but which make the typographic work much better. Also, expect advice on how to achieve various things in various flavours of TeX and (probably) some musings on LaTeX innards.

In this first entry, I’d like to show why I am convinced that all these three areas are connected, and how the blog title fits in. So, let us now listen for a while to Saint JosemarĂ­a Escrivá de Balaguer (I took the quotes from http://www.escrivaworks.org), one of the wise men I mentioned before:

Many people begin, but few finish. And we, who are trying to behave as God’s children, have to be among those few. Remember that only work that is well done and lovingly completed deserves the praise of the Lord which is to be found in Holy Scripture: ‘better is the end of a task than its beginning’. (Friends of God, 55)

I used to enjoy climbing up the cathedral towers to get a close view of the ornamentation at the top, a veritable lacework of stone that must have been the result of very patient and laborious craftsmanship. As I chatted with the young men who accompanied me I used to point out that none of the beauty of this work could be seen from below. To give them a material lesson in what I had been previously explaining to them, I would say: ‘This is God’s work, this is working for God! To finish your personal work perfectly, with all the beauty and exquisite refinement of this tracery stonework.’ Seeing it, my companions would understand that all the work we had seen was a prayer, a loving dialogue with God. The men who spent their energies there were quite aware that no one at street level could appreciate their efforts. Their work was for God alone. Now do you see how our professional work can bring us close to Our Lord? Do your job as those medieval stonemasons did theirs, and your work too will be operatio Dei, a human work with a divine substance and finish. (Friends of God, 65)

Well, the last thing I would like to say is: come back here from time to time and let me know if you have valuable remarks; it is the comments part which makes many blogs worth much more than the author’s writings!

On 12 April 2009, the day of Resurrection of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

CategoryBlog, CategoryFaith, CategoryMaths, CategoryTeX