North Rhine-Westphalia

At the beginning of this month I spent a week travelling around Northwest Germany work. There is a concentration of good maths departments in North Rhine-Westphalia and I did a tour of some of them. I couldn’t get to as many places as i would have liked because Tuesday was a public holiday—May Day is always on the 1st on the continent—but still a lot of places that were new to me.

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My job

While I was in Southampton earlier this year I was asked to write a short post on my job for the maths postgraduate students’ blog. I’m posting it here as well, in case anyone else is interested in what I actually do all day.

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Revelation is by definition isolate – Jessie Greengrass’ Sight

I have been reading Jessie Greengrass’ first novel Sight over the last week. As should come as no surprise to anyone who has heard me talk about Greengrass in the last couple of years, I thought it was fantastic. Strange though it is to say about a book that is in large part about the difficulty of ever knowing others (or ourselves, clearly), Sight made me feel more than anything I have read for a long time that the author was writing just for me. I wasn’t surprised to find out that Greengrass’ background is in analytic philosophy. At a reading in Islington she told us that she was attracted to the intellectual satisfaction of the subject but didn’t find it a very useful way of engaging with the world, which reflects my view of maths as a primarily aesthetic pursuit.

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Snowdonia walking, October 2017

Browsing through some old notebooks last night I found my notes from the solo walking trip I took to Snowdonia last October. I fell into a mental health hole shortly afterwards —probably spending a week alone with no connection to the outside world didn’t slow the fall—and didn’t do get around to writing up the trip.

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© Tom Harris 2015–2018.

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