Sunday, January 14, 2018

'I was in prison and might be shot'

An entranced Arthur Koestler, in "The Invisible Writing":
“I went on to recall Euclid’s proof that the number of primes is infinite… the scribbled symbols on the wall represented one of the rare cases where a meaningful and comprehensive statement about the infinite is arrived at by precise and finite means. I must have stood there for some minutes, entranced, with a wordless awareness that ‘this is perfect, perfect’, until I noticed some slight mental discomfort nagging at the back of my mind, some trivial circumstance that marred the perfection of the moment. Then I remembered the nature of that irrelevant annoyance: I was, of course, in prison and might be shot. But this was immediately answered by a feeling whose verbal translation would be: 'So what? Is that all? Have you got nothing more serious to worry about?' -- an answer so spontaneous, fresh and amused as if the intruding annoyance had been the loss of a collar-stud.”

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