Archive for d’Alembert

visiting musée Rodin

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2016 by xi'an

A chance visit to the Rodin museum in Paris, a museum I had never visited before. Located in the classical Hôtel Biron [almost an anagram of Rodin!] and which was just renovated a few months ago, thanks to support from the French State and the Cantor Foundation. The building and gardens are superb, with the massive sculptures of the Bourgeois de Calais and the Porte de l’Enfer standing against the background of the golden dome of the Invalides…

I had a very vague idea of Rodin’s career and production, hence was quite impressed by the range of sculptures, casts, paintings and drawing he produced. While some sculptures kept a strong connection with classicism, the progressive distanciation from the official canons is striking. As is the series of sculptures as steps to the final realisation, most visible in the museum for the sculpture of Gustave Flaubert. I was quite impressed by the plaster cast of one of Flaubert’s gown, which manages to suggest the writer without any human representation.

The other obvious clue of this distanciation is the progressive inclusion of the raw material like marble in the sculpture, not only as a deconstructionist trick of “art in action” but also as a birth from the original silt. Some of the later pieces are striking annunciations of Picasso or Braque.

Encyclopedias

Posted in Books, Statistics with tags , , , , , , on September 3, 2009 by xi'an

Having been asked to fill an entry on Monte Carlo for the incoming International Handbook of Statistical Sciences, I obliged by writing a short piece, whose utility is rather limited. Indeed, I am afraid I am not very much convinced of the use of such encyclopedias, as they try to provide entries on about “everything” but end up being partial, quickly obsolete, and not so informative… This may sound overly negative, but I never ever use this kind of books for my research or my teaching, so I wonder who does. Encyclopedias (encyclopedii?) were fine when the “whole” of Science could be crammed in three dozen volumes with a slow enough updating process. Current students most likely check on Wikipedia or at large on the Web and, given the price of those behemoths, it seems only libraries can afford them, and then this may be wasted money anyway! My misgivings actually extend to contributed volumes that are (were?) fairly common, mostly in connection with one conference or another, and whose utility is rarely demonstrated. It takes highly dedicated editors to turn contributed volumes into useful coherent books, one example being the 1996 MCMC in Practice book deeply edited by Wally Gilks, Sylvia Richardson and David Spiegelhalter, that still serves as a reference for MCMC methods. Even the traditional Valencia volumes, while giving a snapshot of the on-going research in Bayesian statistics, along with a collection of discussions, have lost some of their luster, when compared with the impact of a discussion paper in Bayesian Analysis… Having conference papers submitted to Bayesian Analysis and selected on the same basis as regular papers, as was done for Valencia 8, seems to me a much better idea than publishing separately a rather costly volume, not read by enough people. (The dates and locations of Valencia 9, the last of the kind, have been announced. It will be in Benidorm, on June 3-8, 2010.)