Less Is More: A Poetic Paradox

How little adds a lot …

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In his Paradoxes in Probability Theory and Mathematical Statistics (1986), Gábor J. Székely shared a paradox learned from his professor, Alfréd Rényi:

Since I started to deal with information theory I have often meditated upon the conciseness of poems; how can a single line of verse contain far more ‘information’ than a highly concise telegram of the same length. The surprising richness of meaning of literary works seems to be in contradiction with the laws of information theory. The key to this paradox is, I think, the notion of ‘resonance.’ The writer does not merely give us information, but also plays on the strings of the language with such virtuosity, that our mind, and even the subconscious self resonate. A poet can recall chains of ideas, emotions and memories with a well-turned word. In this sense, writing is magic.

The paradox described above is also known as the…

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