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“Building a human being” by Hideo Kobayashi and Kiyoshi Oka

This book is a rare dialogue between Hideo Kobayashi, one of the most noted literary critics in Japan and Kiyoshi Oka, who is a genius mathematician.


According to Oka, the essence lies in intuition and passion. He believes in words, the expression by language. He says only by expressing in words can we deepen our thinking.

I found it intriguing partly because of this view being uttered by a mathematician, who I assumed usually uses formulas when thinking rather than in words. I tend to make light of the act of writing, while focusing on reading exclusively. Writing is something very powerful.


Among what Kobayashi said, one of the eye-openers is that we can appreciate the works by someone who we know personally. He gives an example of one of his friends, who composes haiku poetry as a hobby. Kobayashi found his haiku interesting despite its mediocre quality because he knew his personality. Appreciating someone’s works when we know about him or her differs significantly when we don’t. This observation has been thought provoking. The relationship between the creator and us could significantly change our impressions of their work.

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