Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Scary Smart or Ya Gotta Love Math Geeks!

My daughter texted me about a book I needed to look into written by Mike Keith. Naturally, I checked Amazon for the book, but at first all I found was a link to a book on Java. Unfortunately, although equally mathematical and certainly technical, I don't think this is the correct Mike Keith. The book she told me to research is called Not A Wake: A Dream Embodying (Pi's) Digits Fully for 10000 Decimals. That's right, he wrote a book using pi as the basis for the words he used to write the book.
It's called "constrained writing" and involves using a set of rigid rules to write poetry, fiction, etc. In this case, each consecutive word must represent the next consecutive number in the sequence for pi. What's even more interesting is that it's not his first. In fact, this set of rules is common enough to have its own language: "pilish." It's true - I looked it up!
Okay, so I think having a word count is often a tough enough constraint for writing and academic writing is full of rules, but I get those and I can abide by them. I'm enjoying my new blog-world because the rules are what I make them and that's very freeing for an unknown writer with a lot to say. But I followed the link on his page and it gave a link to a PDF of the first few pages. It reads beautifully like poetry, which, if you understand the universe in terms of the music of the spheres (I know - you're hearing "blah, blah, blah"), it makes sense. Numbers and music are so interrelated in so many fundamental ways and the beauty in both is astounding. Just the same, I found myself checking his word lengths against a short calculation of pi . 
On one hand, I'd like to get it and read it...and keep checking pi to 10,000 decimals. Not A Wake appears to be the first novel written in Pilish. Or maybe I'll take a whack at reading his anagrammatic paraphrase of three books of the KJV Bible, The Anagrammed Bible: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon. Of course, I should really read his music writings...
On the other hand, maybe I'll just start by looking up poetry in Pilish that only goes to the 31st or 50th place and start small. I mean, this is a guy who wrote a book about numbers called "Keith Numbers." If he can name a number system after himself...
Baby steps...  

UPDATE: The article Lexi read that led her to contact me about Keith's book can be found here. There are a number of interesting numbers mentioned in the article ;)

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