Scientific writing tends toward a purely formal and mathematical language based on an abstract logic indifferent to its content. Literary writing tends to construct a system of values in which every word, every sign, is a value for the sole reason that it has been chosen and fixed on the page. There could never be any meeting between the two languages, but (on account of their extreme disparity) there can be a challenge, a kind of wager between them. In certain situations it is literature that can work indirectly as a spring to propel the scientist along, providing an example of imaginative courage in taking a hypothesis to its ultimate consequences, and so on. Similarly, in other situations it can work the other way around. At the moment the language of mathematics, of formal logic, can save the writer from the disrepair that words and images have fallen into as a result of being misused. Even so, the writer should not think that he has found anything valid absolutely. Here, too, the example of science can be of use to him, and teach him the patient modesty of considering each and every result as being part of a possibly infinite series of approximations.
– Italo Calvino in The Uses of Literature