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Clancy and Nancago

Later this month, 21 pilots‘ next album, “Clancy”, will be released, promising to give definite answers to all remaining open questions in Dema-lore.

By then we will have been told why Andre Weil and the Bourbaki group show up in the Trench/Dema tale.

This leaves me a couple of weeks to pursue this series of posts (see links below) in which I try to find the best match possible between the factual history of the Bourbaki group and elements from the Dema-storyline.

Two well-known Bourbaki-photographs seem important to the pilots. The first one is from the september 1938 Dieulefit/Beauvallon Bourbaki congress:

At the time, Bourbaki still had to publish their first text, they were rebelling against the powers that be in French mathematics, and were just kicked out of the Julia seminar.

In clikkies parlance: at that moment the Bourbakistas are Banditos, operating in Trench.

The second photograph, below on the left, is part of a famous picture of Andre Weil, supposedly taken in the summer of 1956.

At that time, Bourbaki was at its peak of influence over French mathematics, suffocating enthusiastic math-students with their dry doctrinal courses, and forcing other math-subjects (group theory, logic, applied math, etc.) to a virtual standstill.

In clique-speech: at that moment the Bourbakistas are Bishops, ruling Dema.

Let me recall the story of one word, associated to the Bourbaki=Bishops era which lasted roughly twenty years, from the early 50ties till Bourbaki’s ‘death’ in 1968 : Nancago.

From the 50ties, Nicolas Bourbaki signed the prefaces of ‘his’ books from the University of Nancago.

Between 1951 and 1975, Weil and Diedonne directed a series of texts, published by Hermann, under the heading “Publications de l’Institut mathematique de l’Universite de Nancago”.

Bourbaki’s death announcement mentioned that he “piously passed away on November 11, 1968 at his home in Nancago”.

Nancago was the name of a villa, owned by Dieudonne, near Nice. Etc. etc.

But then, what is Nancago?

Well, NANCAGO is a tale of two cities: NANcy and ChiCAGO.

The French city of Nancy because from the very first Bourbaki meetings, the secretarial headquarters of Bourbaki, led by Jean Delsarte, was housed in the mathematical Institute in Nancy.

Chicago because that’s where Andre Weil was based after WW2 until 1958 when he moved to Princeton.

Much more on the history of Nancago can be found in the newspaper article by Bourbaki scholar par excellance Liliane Beaulieu: Quand Nancy s’appelait Nancago (When Nancy was called Nancago).

Right, but then, if Nancago is the codeword of the Bourbaki=Bishops era, what would be the corresponding codeword for the Bourbaki=Banditos era?

As mentioned above, from 1935 till 1968 Bourbaki’s headquarters was based in Nancy, so even in 1938 Nancy should be one of the two cities mentioned. But what is the other one?

In 1938, Bourbaki’s founding members were scattered over several places, Jean Delsarte and Jean Dieudonne in Nancy, Szolem Mandelbrojt and Rene de Possel in Clermont-Ferrand, and Andre Weil and Henri Cartan in Strasbourg. Claude Chevalley was on a research stay in Princeton.

Remember the Bourbaki photograph at the Beauvallon meeting above? Well, it was taken in september 1938 when the Munich Agreement was reached.

Why is this relevent? Well, because Strasbourg was too close to the German border, right after the Munich agreement the Strasbourg Institute was ordered to withdraw to the University of Clermont-Ferrand.

Clermont-Ferrand lies a bit south of Vichy and remained in WW2 in the ‘free zone’ of France, whereas Strasbourg was immediately annexed by Germany.

For more on the importance of Clermont-Ferrand for Bourbaki during 1940-1942 see the article by Christophe Eckes and Gatien Ricotier Les congrès de Clermont-Ferrand de 1940, 1941 et 1942.

That is, all Bourbaki members where then either affiliated to Nancy or to Clermont-Ferrand.

A catchy codeword for the Bourbaki=Banditos era, similar to Nancago as the tale of two cities, might then be:

CLermont-Ferrand + nANCY = CLANCY.

[For clikkies: rest assured, I’m well aware of the consensus opinion on the origins of Clancy’s name. But in this series of posts I’m not going for the consensus or even intended meanings, but rather for a joyful interplay between historical facts about the Bourbaki group and elements from Dema-lore.]

In this series:


Bourbaki and Dema, two remarks

While this blog is still online, I might as well correct, and add to, previous posts.

Later this week new Twenty One Pilots material is expected, so this might be a good time to add some remarks to a series of posts I ran last summer, trying to find a connection between Dema-lore and the actual history of the Bourbaki group. Here are links to these posts:

In the post “9 Bourbaki founding members, really?” I questioned Wikipedia’s assertion that there were exactly nine founding members of Nicolas Bourbaki:

I still stand by the arguments given in that post, but my opinion on this is completely irrelevant. What matters is who the Bourbaki-gang themself deemed worthy to attach their names to their first publication ‘Theorie des Ensembles’ (1939).

But wait, wasn’t the whole point of choosing the name Nicolas Bourbaki for their collective that the actual authors of the books should remain anonymous?

Right, but then I found this strange document in the Bourbaki Archives : awms_001, a preliminary version of the first two chapters of ‘Theorie des Ensembles’ written by Andre Weil and annotated by Rene de Possel. Here’s the title page:

Next to N. Bourbaki we see nine capital letters: M.D.D.D.E.C.C.C.W corresponding to nine AW-approved founding members of Bourbaki: Mandelbrojt, Delsarte, De Possel, Dieudonne, Ehresmann, Chevalley, Coulomb, Cartan and Weil!

What may freak out the Clique is the similarity between the diagram to the left of the title, and the canonical depiction of the nine Bishops of Dema (at the center of the map of Dema) or the cover of the Blurryface album:

In the Photoshop mysteries post I explained why Mandelbrojt and Weil might have been drawn in opposition to each other, but I am unaware of a similar conflict between either of the three C’s (Cartan, Coulomb and Chevalley) and the three D’s (Delsarte, De Possel and Dieudonne).

So, I’ll have to leave the identification of the nine Bourbaki founding members with the nine Dema Bishops as a riddle for another post.

The second remark concerns the post Where’s Bourbaki’s Dema?.

In that post I briefly suggested that DEMA might stand for DEutscher MAthematiker (German Mathematicians), and hinted at the group of people around David Hilbert, Emil Artin and Emmy Noether, but discarded this as “one can hardly argue that there was a self-destructive attitude (like Vialism) present among that group, quite the opposite”.

At the time, I didn’t know about Deutsche Mathematik, a mathematics journal founded in 1936 by Ludwig Bieberbach and Theodor Vahlen.

Deutsche Mathematik is also the name of a movement closely associated with the journal whose aim was to promote “German mathematics” and eliminate “Jewish influence” in mathematics. More about Deutsche Mathematik can be found on this page, where these eight mathematicians are mentioned in connection with it:

Perhaps one can add to this list:

Whether DEutsche MAthematik stands for DEMA, and which of these German mathematicians were its nine bishops might be the topic of another post. First I’ll have to read through Sanford Segal’s Mathematicians under the Nazis.

Added February 29th:

The long awaited new song has now surfaced:

I’ve only watched it once, but couldn’t miss the line “I fly by the dangerous bend symbol“.

Didn’t we all fly by them in our first readings of Bourbaki…

(Fortunately the clique already spotted that reference).

No intention to freak out clikkies any further, but in the aforementioned Weil draft of ‘Theorie des Ensembles’ they still used this precursor to the dangerous bend symbol

Skeletons anyone?

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Grothendieck’s gribouillis (6)

After the death of Grothendieck in November 2014, about 30.000 pages of his writings were found in Lasserre.

Since then I’ve been trying to follow what happened to them:

So, what’s new?

Well, finally we have closure!

Last Friday, Grothendieck’s children donated the 30.000 Laserre pages to the Bibliotheque Nationale de France.

Via Des manuscrits inédits du génie des maths Grothendieck entrent à la BnF (and Google-translate):

“The singularity of these manuscripts is that they “cover many areas at the same time” to form “a whole, a + cathedral work +, with undeniable literary qualities”, analyzes Jocelyn Monchamp, curator in the manuscripts department of the BnF.

More than in “Récoltes et semailles”, very autobiographical, the author is “in a metaphysical retreat”, explains the curator, who has been going through the texts with passion for a month. A long-term task as the writing, in fountain pen, is dense and difficult to decipher. “I got used to it… And the advantage for us was that the author had methodically paginated and dated the texts.” One of the parts, entitled “Structures of the psyche”, a book of enigmatic diagrams translating psychology into algebraic language. In another, “The Problem of Evil”, he unfolds over 15,000 pages metaphysical meditations and thoughts on Satan. We sense a man “caught up by the ghosts of his past”, with an adolescence marked by the Shoah, underlines Johanna Grothendieck whose grandfather, a Russian Jew who fled Germany during the war, died at Auschwitz.

The deciphering work will take a long time to understand everything this genius wanted to say.

On Friday, the collection joined the manuscripts department of the Richelieu site, the historic cradle of the BnF, alongside the writings of Pierre and Marie Curie and Louis Pasteur. It will only be viewable by researchers.“This is a unique testimony in the history of science in the 20th century, of major importance for research,” believes Jocelyn Monchamp.

During the ceremony, one of the volumes was placed in a glass case next to a manuscript by the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid.”

Probably, the recent publication of Récoltes et Semailles clinched the deal.

Also, it is unclear at this moment whether the Istituto Grothendieck, which harbours The centre for Grothendieck studies coordinated by Mateo Carmona (see this post) played a role in the decision making, nor what role the Centre will play in the further studies of Grothendieck’s gribouillis.

For other coverage on this, see Hermit ‘scribblings’ of eccentric French math genius unveiled.