This book is so great.

Having claimed that Anathem has scientists living in convents just like monks and nuns, I can, after one hundred and fifty pages, elaborate a bit: in the distant past, one Cnoüs had a vision that each of his two daughters interpreted in her own way. Whereas one thought he had seen God and spoken against idol worship; the other one maintained he had witnessed something like a Thing in itself, a world of platonic ideas, and that he preferred that to the world of phenomena.

The former daughter became the founder of religion in a quite Christian sense; the latter, however, founded the mathic world. I do not know anything quite like it in our world, except maybe for the concept of the Ivory Tower. The avout, as the inhabitants of the maths are called, are probably best described as mathematicians or maybe theoretical physicists: for they strive for knowledge as an end in itself. Any application of that knowledge is of no interest to them.

Day-to-day life in the maths, could not be more different from that in earthly research institutes; it resembles traditional convents instead: there is Discipline, a set of rules regulating every aspect of life, including a list of plants sanctioned in the garden; there is the inquisition, making sure rules are adhered to; there are daily masses; and of course a strong relationship with tradition.

At this point, it may be important to mention the immense age of  Anathem's world -- the ancient world of what is not quite Greece lies seven thousand years in the past; the Praxic Age, reminiscent of our Industrial Age, has passed three or four thousand years ago. Therefore, some things that are new to us may have a tradition that extends for millennia.

Even folding tables. Amongst all the grand concepts and the awe-inspiring world there are time and again details that make me laugh, or area feast for the geek inside me. Take, for example, the two thousand five hundred year folding table, taken from army supplies, but with a mechanism so complicated that it leaves the protagonist at a loss even after trying for a quarter of an hour. Fortunately, there is a manual; but that is merely five centuries more recent than the table and thus written in a language hardly accessible to the average reader. If you do not think this is funny, or at least interesting, you will hardly find Anathem an enjoyable read.

As for me, I am two chapters into the book and cannot get enough of it. More to follow shortly.

[Edit: Typos, Übersetzung]

11.25 pm 2 Kommentaredeutsch

von kirjoittaessani

2 Responses to “Von antiken Klapptischen”

  1. sid Says:

    die Klapptischnummer finde ich auch jetzt auch witzig...der Rest ist aber denke ich, nichts für mich...

  2. kirjoittaessani » Blog Archive » Ein Metaphysischer Roman Says:

    [...] Rezension zu schreiben. Ich muß zugeben, daß ich mich damit schwer tue, und viel besser als der Klapptisch-Eintrag wird sie wohl nicht werden. Gänzlich unmöglich scheint mir eine Diskussion, die [...]