The Friends with an Old Book task seemed at first somewhat pointless and unavailing. The book which I have made Friend with, Opera mathematica ou oeuvres mathématicques : traictans de géometrie, perspective, architecture et fortification ausquels sont aioints les fondements de la perspective & architecture, is a handbook written by a Dutch mathematician in French in the early seventeenth century. The first task, location, was completed in a dizzy disorientation with the author unknown, the language incomprehensible, the topics abstruse and the context unclear, and it was hard to imagine that I could learn anything from this ancient work.
The feeling remained unchanged until the second task, Contact, when I had the chance to actually meet my future friend in “person”. It was an intriguing experience, as I was able to physically examine a book in its original seventeenth-century-edition, one that I have done some research on and wondered about what it could actually look like. It was still impossible to learn its contents due to the language barrrier, however, fortunately, the book was filled with illustrations which were self-explanatory. I now had a vague idea about the topics of the book, I gained an impression on its physical presentation, and most importantly, I could feel the depth of the four-hundred-years between us, in its sheepskin-cover bound with purple threads, in the fragile and yellowed pages, in the gorgeous and maybe even pompous decorations, and in the sponge pad under it for its protection. We were not yet friends, but I knew it better now.
After completing two further tasks and facing the third, the Synthetic Friendships, where I was supposed to introduce my book to the others, I suddenly realized how much I had known about my friend. I still did not have much clue about the profound knowledge contained in it, but that belongs to a friendship, too— you don’t have to necessarily understand everything about your friend’s profession. At that time point, what first seemed impossible to achieve was achieved, I made friend with a four-hundred-years old book. There were naturally also some troubles in the process, most related to the language, but they did not matter. Friendship is something vague and emotional, and a year of companion would already do the job.