Mandelbrot’s The Fractalist, Chapter 20: An Underachieving and Restless Maverick Pulls Up Shallow Roots, 1957–58

In this final chapter before heading into Book 3, we read how an older Mandelbrot looks back on his decisions to pursue his goal and the risks that were required to succeed.

Best Quote(s)

Mandelbrot has a dream – he has a goal. He sees that his life to this point is not getting him to this goal. Without this goal – the Keplerian dream – Mandelbrot has no guiding vision. It is the yardstick by which he measures success.

“Unfortunately, my various enterprises up to 1957 had not gone very far to further my aging but still vibrant Keplerian dream.”

Mandelbrot, Chapter 20

Mandelbrot isn’t sure what he should do – but he is increasingly sure that what he is doing is not a fit for his goals in life. Pursuing a career in French academia will block his goal.

“I saw no compatibility between a university position in France and my still-burning wild ambition and dreams.”

Mandelbrot, Chapter 20

Mandelbrot may not know what to do – but he does know clearly what not to do. Such simple steps as having a goal and avoiding bad decisions keep the dream alive and his pursuit a rationale one.

Page by Page, Screen by Screen

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“Unfortunately, my various enterprises up to 1957 had not gone very far to further my aging but still vibrant Keplerian dream.”

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“But safety was not my goal, so that very thought made me shudder.”

Mandelbrot realizes that he should avoid the life of a civil servant.

“I saw no compatibility between a university position in France and my still-burning wild ambition and dreams.”

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“In fact, I allowed risk to increase enormously. Instead of joining any existing community of scientists, I went my own way and kept moving into topics that were not part of any field or establishment.“

“On July 20, 1958, unaware of what I was doing, I cast a die never to be retrieved.”

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1 Response to Mandelbrot’s The Fractalist, Chapter 20: An Underachieving and Restless Maverick Pulls Up Shallow Roots, 1957–58

  1. Pingback: Mandelbrot Part 2: Chapters 8 – 20, “My Long and Meandering Education in Science and in Life” | Fred Lybrand

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