From Oswald Veblen’s opening address to the 1950 ICM:
Mathematics is terribly individual. Any mathematical act, whether of creation or apprehension, takes place in the deepest recesses of the individual mind. Mathematical thoughts must nevertheless be communicated to other individuals and assimilated into the body of general knowledge. Otherwise they can hardly be said to exist. By the time it becomes necessary to raise one’s voice in a large hall some of the best mathematicians I know are simply horrified and remain silent…
The solution will not be to give up international mathematical meetings and organizations altogether, for there is a deep human instinct that brings them about. Every human being feels the need of belonging to some sort of a group of people with whom he has common interests. Otherwise he becomes lonely, irresolute, and ineffective. The more one is a mathematician the more one tends to be unfit or unwilling to play a part in normal social groups. In most cases that I have observed, this is a necessary, though definitely not a sufficient, condition for doing mathematics.”
This view of mathematics and mathematicians is deeply alien to me. I experience mathematics as thoroughly communal. Does this reflect a change in mathematical practice in the last 60 years, or just a difference in temperament between Ozzie and me?