Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Wednesday March 17, 2004

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 4:31 PM

Readings for
St. Patrick's Day


Finnegans Wake (1939)

Gravity's Rainbow (1978)

Masks of the Illuminati (1981)


"Nature does not know extinction;
all it knows is transformation.
Everything science has taught me,
and continues to teach me,
strengthens my belief in
the continuity of our
spiritual existence
after death."

Wernher von Braun

"I faced myself that day
with the nonplused apprehension
of someone who has
come across a vampire
and has no crucifix in hand."

— Joan Didion, "On Self-Respect,"
in Slouching Towards Bethlehem


"For every kind of vampire,
there is a kind of cross.

— Thomas Pynchon,
Gravity's Rainbow

Carpenter's Square:

In Latin, NORMA

Multa renascentur quae iam cecidere, cadentque
quae nunc sunt in honore uocabula, si uolet usus,
quem penes arbitrium est et ius et norma loquendi.

Horace, Ars Poetica

Many terms will be born again
that by now have sunk into oblivion,
and many that are now held in respect
will die out if that is what use should dictate
in whose power is the judgment and the law
and the rule of speech.

All, all must perish — but, surviving last,
The love of Letters half preserves the past;
True — some decay, yet not a few revive,
Though those shall sink, which now
     appear to thrive,
As Custom arbitrates, whose shifting sway
Our life and language must alike obey.

Hints from Horace

"Norma was the latin word for what we now call a carpenter's square. It was used to construct lines which were at right angles to another line, so the created line was said to be 'normal.'  The norma was also used as a standard to compare if objects, like a wall, might be erect (perpendicular to the ground) and so those that met the standard were called 'normal' and this use extended to the 'typical' element of any type of set. Eventually normal came to mean anything that 'met the standard.' "

Pat Ballew on mathematical usage


"317 is a prime,
not because we think so,
or because our minds are shaped
in one way rather than another,
because it is so,
because mathematical reality
is built that way."

— G. H. Hardy,
A Mathematician's Apology

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