This is a scene of exquisite simplicity. A man rides his donkey through the extraordinary badlands in the geographical centre of Afghanistan. Bamiyan was a major trading post on the Silk Road, at the most westerly point of Buddhist expansion. There are buddhas carved into the cliffs and what remains of the City of Sighs – pillaged by Genghis Khan in 1221 – still lures pilgrims from far afield. What makes this picture extraordinary is the golden light – either morning or evening – which exaggerates the illuminated peaks and shadowed troughs of the landscape. The man and his steed give it scale – a small unit in a vast, empty, beautiful land.
Moreover, Hardy deliberately pointed out in his Apology that mathematicians generally do not "glory in the uselessness of their work," but rather – because science can be used for evil ends as well as good – "mathematicians may be justified in rejoicing that there is one science at any rate, and that their own, whose very remoteness from ordinary human activities should keep it gentle and clean." Hardy also rejected as a "delusion" the belief that the difference between pure and applied mathematics had anything to do with their utility. Hardy regards as "pure" the kinds of mathematics that are independent of the physical world, but also considers some "applied" mathematicians, such as the physicists Maxwell and Einstein , to be among the "real" mathematicians, whose work "has permanent aesthetic value" and "is eternal because the best of it may, like the best literature, continue to cause intense emotional satisfaction to thousands of people after thousands of years." Although he admitted that what he called "real" mathematics may someday become useful, he asserted that, at the time in which the Apology was written, only the "dull and elementary parts" of either pure or applied mathematics could "work for good or ill."