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From left to right, moving from the longest to the shortest, are drawn the world

Entangling history, phenomenology, metaphysics, culture, and mathematics: the model RTSK

Entangling history, phenomenology, metaphysics, culture, and mathematics: the model RTSK

Profound mathematical ideas for romantics, to help us linger in the difference we share.

Our times are defined by narrow views and limited perspectives. Poetry, art and maths can help us move against rigidity and separation, and around such obstructions and violences. They offer us analogies for multidimensional thinking and integration, helping us linger in the difference we share. Fernando will introduce some key contemporary mathematical ideas, and talk about how they help us map and find meaning in the complexities of our lived experience by embracing a generative, trans understanding of our sociality.

Don’t worry, you won’t have to make any calculations or have any previous maths knowledge! Maths is a way of thinking, which is not limited to its techniques, even though, because of how it is taught in school, that’s what we are familiar with. Fernando is going to help us think about mathematical ideas as they can structure our worldviews; ways of thinking about the world that lots of us might already hold, but just didn’t ever think about in terms of maths before.


Fernando Zalamea is a Colombian mathematician, philosopher, cultural critic and writer living in Bogotá, Columbia. He opens up the vast spectrum of modern and contemporary mathematics and the new philosophical possibilities they suggestto any of us who have ever read an epic novel, been moved by a piece of art, or wonder about the complexity of human understanding and social life. His thinking — as summarised in English in his book Synthetic Philosophy of Contemporary Mathematics (Urbanomic x Sequence Press 2012) — weaves together strands of the modern and postmodern, the rational and the romantic into a synthetic universality, endlessly revisable and updatable, and puts forward an idea of the trans and transmodernity as a term to encompass our unfolding epoch.

Study Session General Info

Study Sessions are informal, slightly more intimate spaces and a chance to geek out. Some might be presentations, some might be workshops; each will open out the ideas and themes in the Episode, led by people who’ve been considering them for ages. This one is about the interconnectedness of mathematical ways of thinking and the complex back and forth of our cultural lives.

Image Description: Darton & Gardner’s Comparative Chart of World Mountains and Rivers 1823. A hand drawn illustration in light greens and blues. From left to right, moving from the longest to the shortest, are drawn the worlds’ great rivers. They form a triangular shape narrowing to a point at the top right corner. Below them, from right to left, starting with the least tall, and moving to the highest, are drawn the worlds’ great mountains. They start as a narrow point of a triangle in the bottom left, and grow to the highest point at the top right. A chart of data used to compile the illustration obscures the bottom left corner. The image reflects Fernando Zalamea’s obsession with the novels Moby Dick and Under the Volcano, and contemporary maths’ swings from heights to depths.

Video and slides from Fernando’s seminars on Grothendieck Fernando’s book Synthetic Philosophy of Contemporary Mathematics


2 images, 1 video, 1 audio
Audio Recording
Arika_Episode_10_2020_AW_010_Fernando Zalamea
Arika_Episode_10_2020_AW_011_Fernando Zalamea
Arika_Episode_10_2020_AW_010_Fernando Zalamea
Arika_Episode_10_2020_AW_011_Fernando Zalamea