I read with interest and enjoyment Heather McHugh's article ["The Fabric: A Poet's Vesalius," December 2007], and was both startled and moved by the poetic beauty of the anatomical drawings. I write to comment on a small point. McHugh says:
It has been ongoing and careless that persons outside mathematics confuse an accumulated and systematized body of mathematical knowledge, developed over centuries, with the work of individual mathematicians—for whom discovery is sudden and holistic, arriving "in a slant of light, a snap of understanding across a field of patterns" [McHugh]. In addition, outsiders also may confuse the pages of logical detail that constitute a proof of a conjecture, turning it into a theorem, with the "aha" moment of discovery that sets a mathematician on the journey to find a proof. Those who are fluent in the language of mathematics read it with awe and awareness of the elegance, beauty, and startling insight of its propositions and formulae. It is a sort of poetry.
Silver Spring, Maryland