Like literary fiction, mathematical imagination entertains pure possibilities.
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One particular aspect of Siddhartha’s revelation of the outside world has always struck me. Quite possibly he lived his first thirty years without any knowledge of number. How must he have felt, then, to see crowds of people mingling in the streets? Before that day he would not have believed that so many people existed in all the world. And what wonder it must have been to discover flocks of birds, and piles of stones, leaves on trees and blades of grass! To suddenly realise that, his whole life long, he had been kept at arm’s length from multiplicity.
We know next to nothing with any certainty about Pythagoras, except that he was not really called Pythagoras. The name by which he is known to us was probably a nickname bestowed by his followers. According to one source, it meant ‘He who spoke truth like an oracle’. Rather than entrust his mathematical and philosophical ideas to paper, Pythagoras is said to have expounded them before large crowds. The world’s most famous mathematician was also its first rhetorician.
Things were changing; I was changing. All swelling limbs and sweating brain, suddenly I had more body than I knew what to do with. Arms and legs became the prey of low desktops and narrow corridors, were ambushed by sharp corners. Mr Baxter ignored my plight. Bodies were inimical to mathematics, or so we were led to believe. Bad hair, acrid breath, lumpy skin, all vanished for an hour every Tuesday and Thursday. Young minds in the buff soared into the sphere of pure reason. Pages turned to parallelograms; cities, circumferences; recipes, ratios. Shorn of our bearings, we groped our way around in this rarefied air.
No relationship is without its difficulties and this is certainly true when one or both of the persons involved has an autistic spectrum disorder. Even so, I believe what is truly essential to the success of any relationship is not so much compatibility, but love. When you love someone, virtually anything is possible.