Piranesi and Clarke

Kicks Condor alerted me to the imminent release of Susanna Clarke’s new book, titled Piranesi. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is long overdue for a re-read. I definitely was too young and obnoxious to appreciate it back when it was published.  (I sure hope I’ve gotten humbler and wiser by now; or at least, be able to enjoy Clarke’s apparently-genius writing more.)

But enough about Clarke. Piranesi is the name that grabbed my attention far more than hers. Le Carceri remains a profound influence upon my subconscious mind and imagination, far more than any other fantasy world-building. I wrote an essay about my visceral experience, but words can’t really describe how grand and otherworldly the Prisons are. My folio-sized artbook of full-sized art plates, laboriously hunted down after months via Abebooks, remains a prized possession in my library.

I suppose Clarke is the only author out there who’d conceivably write a whole novel about Piranesi and his Prisons. I look forward to reading it!

Things I learnt: revelling in numbers and elements.

Probably says something about how I’m wired, that I get much more joy reading about materials and physical sciences and the inanimate/inorganic world, than about the biological sciences and living things. And there’s joy in learning about mathematics too. What is there not to love about numbers and elements!

Working with them, though? Chemical elements are a part of daily working life, but advanced math isn’t and takes a bit more effort to enjoy. But, while meeting prerequisites for freshman undergraduate science, instead of taking the standard math unit for science majors that everyone else took, I chose the calculus unit for math majors. The professor was engaging and I understood things intuitively, but found it hard to apply them, worked like a dog to scrape up a pass, and have since forgotten everything from that unit. Yet, given the chance to revel in the wonders and confoundedness that is pure math, I could not pass up that opportunity then, and I still can’t. (Doing a degree in math and physics has been on my bucket list ever since.)


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