During my year long relationship with the book, Opera Mathematica by Samuel Marolois, I learnt many fascinating new things. I was able to interact with an old book and experience first hand its enticing descriptions and drawings on a multitude of topics. Due to our frequent contact with one another, it became an constant part of my first year of architecture at the ETH.
Before this task, I had never held an old book before. Now that I have done so, I can tell others of my experience. I still remember as clearly as if it were yesterday my visit to the library, where I met my book in person for the first time. The paper felt crisp and heavy to the touch and the book had an aura to it, quite unlike the cheap paperbacks by Nicholas Sparks at my local kiosk. It is for this reason that my appreciation for old books is now even greater than it was before I embarked upon this journey.
The voyage has been a long one and has allowed me to experience the many different virtues my book has to offer. It’s value stretches from its aforementioned physical presence, to the intricate drawings and writing, all written and brought to paper without the use of modern technology. The book therefore represents in its societal function not merely the description of methods on drawing fortresses, but much more the role as a messenger for the greatest invention of humankind: the ability to tell stories. It has been this realisation above all else which has defined this relationship as pivotal in my appreciation of books as a part of not only my life, but the entire human experience.
The relationship is, however, not merely restricted to the book itself. When talking about Opera Mathematica, one must always include reference of its creator in person, Samuel Marolois. I haven’t learnt much about his credentials, but his presence is still felt nonetheless. Related to him is the books interesting lineage I discovered. The world of publishing and editing books into new editions and translating into new languages was both novel and interesting to me. In the time the book was written, the slower nature of the world gave the book a different reception from what we would expect today.
Lastly, I would like to talk about friendship in the broader sense of the word. To me, a friendship is something which can only be formed with two-way participation. And that is the reason why my relationship with the book is not a true friendship, but more of an acquaintance. All the same, I have learnt a lot from the experience of handling such a book, researching its history, the methodology involved in such a process and the form of writing from its period in general. But as it is not a true friendship, I fear that in time my connection with it will fade, to be replaced by Sparks’ latest musings on boring romance from the Kiosk but also a better ability to understand the value of books as a whole.