Thursday, October 02, 2008


It's embarrassing just how much gratification figuring out how to reliably reproduce this simple braid pattern gave me. It took at least an hour, and of course it's so simple that once I grasped it I felt that any dunderhead should have been able to figure it out in five minutes. But I also felt the delight of seeing complicated things unfold from simple principles, which is one of my chief pleasures, and the delight of kinship with long-dead Indian and Tibetan and Celtic artists, whoever they were, who first figured these things out. I'm sure they got the same rush of gratification. Once you know how it works, you can make it work anywhere, any time: it's like the pleasure of learning your first arithmetic, and finding that it works everywhere: two plus two is always four, whether it's apples or oranges or noble truths. How cool is that?

I'm dutifully reading a biography of William Pitt the Younger, because I don't know anything about him, and that seemed weird, for someone who is as interested in Napoleonic times as I am. I've discovered, though, why it's taken so long for me to learn anything about him: he is the single most boring Important Person who ever lived.

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