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01-15-2012, 10:09 AM
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Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity, by David Foster Wallace: I keep trying, in what strikes me as an alarmingly nerd-like activity, to catch a bead on the concept of infinity, this being my third, hideously failed attempt. Of course, I always bang my head into all kinds of incredibly abstract and complicated math problems that for someone who never ventured beyond basic arithmetic are impossible to understand. I thought Wallace, a brilliant, funny writer with a wonderful conversational style might provide a successful entry point but no, no such bloody luck. He still has a very readable style, but one would need a pretty sophisticated university-level background in math to get even a basic toehold here and, as well, infinite patience, assuming you could figure out what the **** that was. If anyone knows of any real simple social histories of infinity, let me know. For Wallace "completists," well, you guys are in for a real challenge.

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