Reading, Rapping, and Arithmetic

| Mon Jul. 12, 2010 7:00 AM EDT

The only thing I learned from Paul Edwards' new book, How to Rap: The Art and Science of the Hip-Hop MC, was that I can't rap.

This will come as no surprise to those who know me—and really, it probably isn't all that surprising to those who don't. Because if you concede that hip-hop is an art form, then—unless you belong to Malcolm Gladwell's How to Fall Asleep at Night Despite Your Shortcomings club—you probably also concede that rapping is a skill granted to a lucky few, gifted people. Just as most of us can't paint landscapes that would ever see the inside of a museum, most of us simply can't rap very well.

In 1931, logician Kurt Gödel demonstrated his now-famous Incompleteness Theorem, proof that in whichever branch of mathematics you study—geometry, arithmetic, set theory, etc.—there will always be truths that you cannot prove. His logic (pun intended) is surprisingly simple. And there's a great explanation here that I'll try to summarize:

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