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::: Anathem (part 1)

Working my way through Neil Stephenson's Anathem. Holy cow. Talk about a demanding read -- mathematics, religion, linguistics, music, philosophy, astronautics, physics, metaphysics, not to mention herbology, cosmology, quantum mechanics, and change-ringing!! This book has it all. For the first hundred pages I floundered along in a daze, feeling rather like someone in a language immersion program trying to live and breathe a completely alien communication medium, until suddenly it clicked around page 250. So far I've recognized Plato and a few other core philosophical approaches (though I don't know them well enough to put a name to them -- what, or who, is the opposite of Plato?).

Fraa Erasmas' descriptions of the urban youth, with their "caps with beverage logos," made me giggle, while the enormous expanse of time that is the backdrop to the mathic view of the outer (extramural) world is breathtaking. It's reminiscent of Asimov's Foundation series, only the Foundation is looking forwards while the maths have a multiple-millennia perspective on the past.

Stephenson must be a terrifyingly intelligent person. The most complicated concepts are presented so simply, and yet without the slightest sense of shallowness; there's a depth of comprehension behind it that's staggering. And I want a sphere!!

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