Have I talked long enough about math and gardens to be talking just to myself?
That is a pity – now that I’ve backtracked, changed disguises, ducked into dark alleys – stood silent for one month, talked inconsequences the next – now that I’ve re-made the kind of public anonymity I need to feel safe writing – it’s a pity I can’t recommend to anyone but myself the wisdom of running right over this minute to People Running, People Walking for a remarkable and magical series of fictions – “Forty Days and Nights: Love Stories.”
If you can read this, you really should go.
And if you do, start at the first story: “Making up the World” and work your way through to the last: “Finding the Words.” You will never, never regret it. Great stuff – funny, surprising, unbelievable and utterly recognizable.
“Good symbolism is one of the greatest aids to the human mind,” said Leibnitz, the twin creator of the calculus.
(You had to know I was going to slip the maths into this, didn’t you?)
Reading Suzanne’s (People Running, People Walking’s) brilliant fictions over these past 40 days, and acting as cheerleader and midwife these past two months to another writer’s heart-stopping breakthrough – seeing in both cases what can be said in fiction that is unsayable as fact – while also musing over my foray into elementary functions and the calculus – I am struck at the similarity of solutions in each of these diverse plots. Quoting (again) from Berlinski’s Tour of the Calculus:
” . . . saying one thing but writing quite another, agreeing in solemn convocation that irrational numbers are a fiction (almost a certain sign of bad faith, in mathematics or anything else), and then applying that fiction to numerical problems and like Bhaskara miraculously getting the answer right, the work involved in the creation of the calculus a matter evidently capable of being conducted without being clarified . . . “
I think more and more that the most vital things must always be conducted without being clarified.
Fiction is not an obscuring tissue of lies. Fiction is the engendering mist, a veil that conceals as it waters the whole face of the earth, trailing away to reveal a whole world springing up into something more real than was there before.