The byline of LJK Setright is back on the pages of Auto & Design. One of the sharpest reporters in the trade, Setright devotes his article in this issue to looking at a topic of eternal interest but from an automotive angle, namely identifying the laws of geometry and mathematics which underlie the universal canons of harmony and beauty.
This is not a new endeavour. The English journalist is following in the footsteps of some illustrious forerunners. The greatest sculptors of Ancient Greece were exploring the concept of the Golden Mean well before the birth of Christ. Centuries later that Leonardo da Vinci drawing we all know of the man inside the circle, his outstretched limbs forming the straight lines that establish perfect proportions, represent the Renaissance concept of perfect harmony that places Man at the centre of the universe.
There are, of course, far more prosaic applications of conventional canons that we all use to establish order in our everyday lives. Is there one paradigmatic example we can extricate from the complex web of mathematical signs and algebraic theories Setright deploys in pursuit of his argument? How about the sheets of paper we slot into our typewriters or our printers. Their sizes may vary, but their proportions are always the same: a length that is always equal to their width multiplied by v2. There would seem to be an innate human desire to identify rules that circumscribe our realities, whether that reality be a sheet of paper, a motor car or a sculpture by Phidias.
So never fear that these matters are too deep for us ordinary morals. All Setright is talking about, after all, are the underlying aesthetic values revealed in the geometries of the cars we all admire, be they classics or new arrivals on the scene.
The article continues in Auto & Design no. 133