(anti-)Valentine’s Day Reads

Music: Arcade Fire–My Body is a Cage

Two posts within as many days about BOOKS. I know. Terrible, right? Considering I’m a Lit student and a writer.

Who’d’ve guessed I’d joined the anti-Valentine’s Day parade? My reading repertoire has decided for me, apparently. Frank Sinatra might be blaring out my speakers, but today’s reads defy the mood.

Oh, hello, Basil. Not sure what resemblance my brought thinks I have to John Cleese, though...

Oh, hello, Basil. Not sure what resemblance my brother thinks I have to John Cleese, though…

First up, we have BASIL by Wilkie Collins. The one is my nickname (courtesy of my brother), and the other one of my favourite authors, so I figured I ought to own this book. And read it, because you shouldn’t own books you don’t intend to read (mhm, I may be guilty…I’ve never even flicked through the Oxford Dictionary of Popes). Of course, before I ordered it, I didn’t realise that Basil, the titular character, falls in love with the linen-draper’s daughter at first sight. Ugh, that old trope.

basilwilkiecollins

His and Margaret’s marriage is secret, because Basil’s family are exceedingly class-conscious, and unconsummated, because Margaret is only seventeen. But the night before the pair are due to live with each other, Basil catches Margaret with her forty-year-old tutor!

The book is about the conflict between sexual and romantic needs—and, contrary to so much of literature, this time the woman (um, girl?!) is the unrepentant sexually precocious sinner and the guy the hopeless romantic.

Secondly, I’m reading THE MAID’S TRAGEDY, a play written by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher in the early 1600s. My choir (I’ve cut back to one vocal ensemble now) are singing ‘Lay a garland on her hearse’, a madrigal setting of one of the verses in the play, so I thought I’d look it up. We’re not a clean-singing choir, but…to put it plainly, this is an Elizabethan sex tragedy.

The King orders his courtier Amintor to marry Evadne instead of Aspatia, the girl to whom he is betrothed. But the night after the wedding, Amintor discovers that Evadne only married him to conceal that she is the King’s mistress.

What with Aspatia’s father plotting revenge on Amintor, Amintor plotting revenge on the King, and Evadne’s brother prevailing upon everyone else to take their own revenges, there promises to be a veritable mound of bodies onstage in the final scene.

Faithless women (as that Eagles song goes). Okay, I get it. I’ll pretend it isn’t the world’s ‘day of love’ and enjoy my reading.

~

That said, I can always strip people and love from my lecture. See what just arrived in the post? MATHS AND PASTA. Yeah. Someone (an architect called George L Legendre, to be specific) actually wrote a book mathematically classifying about eighty different types of pasta.pastabydesignpastabydesign2

And this is the reading I like best. Because I really really like pasta. 😀

Light reading at the Premier Inn last week, when I competed in the UKMT Senior Team Maths Challenge for the very last time *sadness*

Light reading at the Premier Inn last week, when I competed in the UKMT Senior Team Maths Challenge for the very last time *sadness*

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Maths Meets Music

Mum *sings a note* I’m guessing either a C or a D.
*goes to piano* Oh, it’s a C sharp.
Dad Well, it’s the average of your guesses.
Me Only if it’s a linear relationship.
Dad Of course it is. The C above a middle C has twice the frequency.
Me Then it wouldn’t be linear. It would increase by powers of two.
Dad
Me *consults Wikipedia* Yep, powers of two. Twelve semitones, so to get the frequency of the next semitone, multiply by the twelfth root of two. Middle C is roughly 262 hertz; Tenor C is 523 or so and Soprano C is 1047.
Dad *does the maths* And the fifth, the seventh semitone, is roughly halfway. Maybe that’s why it’s the perfect cadence.
Me *gets calculator* *nearly blasphemes*   2(12√2)7 ≡ 2(2) ∕ (12√2)5!!!! Modelling 2 as n hertz. And the best thing is that the answer is 2.996614154…which rounds to 3, which is halfway between 2 and 4. Aaaaghhh *the romance of logic overwhelms*
Dad So our brains aren’t adding a fixed value between each semitone. They’re actually making a complex geometric calculation.
Me What do you think, Mum?
Mum I stopped listening when you mentioned averages.
Me Yet you’re the only one of us who can sing in tune.
Dad and I *return to calculations* *major excitement*musicalnotes

God is Maths!

1 + 1 = 2

Right?

Prove it.

What does true matter consist of? What is the real component of matter?

Atoms.

Prove it.

And don’t get microscopic on me, because who’s to say the stuff you can see under a microscope is really what’s there? You rely on your sensory experience. But how can you be assured of anything, anything except the contents of your own mind at the present moment? Maybe you just popped into existence a few seconds ago, complete with memories, knowledge and theories.

Surely I couldn’t dream all this up myself, you say.

Well, prove you didn’t. And don’t try using your senses to do that. That would be working upon the very assumption you’re attempting to prove. Total nonsense!

Atoms, again. It’s logical, you say.

Logical, eh? And tell me exactly why the things you observe correspond to your own ideas of theoretical explanations for those very observations.

1 + 1 = 2

I won’t ask you to prove it. Numbers are abstract. And if you held up one finger on one hand and one on the other, and counted two, I’d ask you how you knew your fingers existed, how you knew you were holding up two of them.

1 + 1 = 2

Everyone in their sane mind agrees. Not because they see it, but because it’s the assumption they must make in order to believe in every mathematical process in ‘existence’. Maths is there. You can’t prove it, but it doesn’t go away. It always has been, and always will be.

We say 1 + 1 = 2, and if we didn’t, everything we’d built upon that one assumption would fall through.

God is an axiom, should you choose to believe it.

I am a mathematician. I build my future on earth upon 1 + 1 = 2, and my future in Heaven upon my belief in God.