Good at figures, Fibonacci, like all merchants.
So he wrote a book of counting when he wasn’t at the market.
People saw the patterns later, in the petals of a flower,
in the spirals of a pine cone or a ram’s horn or a sea snail’s
chambered shell, the florets of a cauliflower, the whorl
of sunflower seeds, a moth’s flight round a candle.
All the same. And then what? Then what?
If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not discover it.
Heraclitus The Riddler. Heraclitus The Obscure. Heraclitus
and his tricksy never stepping into the same river twice, and
his unapparent connection is better than apparent. Yes, yes…
These philosophers. And clerics. In 1555, the Bishop
of Uppsala notes that snowflakes are hexagonal. Each one.
And he should know, up there. But no two are the same. Ever.
Abbé Haüy spends his whole life digging with a pickaxe and a spade
hunting for crystals, hypnotized by haematite and cryolite and amethyst
and lazulite and quartz and tourmaline. He knows (because a hundred
years before, it has been documented) that for each variety of mineral,
the angles between the faces of the crystal are the same. Always.
Robert Hooke and Leeuwenhoek look closer through their lenses.
Observation. Evidence. Method, not imagination. Micrographia
of sputum, faeces, blood and semen, protozoa, bacteria, after insects,
seeds and flowers. As if by delving deeper and deeper, all will be
revealed. Finally, a little joke. An inventory of eyes: the eyes of flies,
of bulls, the crystalline vitreous humour of a whale. Proportion. Size.
And what then? What then? Heraclitus doesn’t have a clue. Neither
does Pythagoras, nor Leucippus, nor Parmenides, nor Socrates,
nor Plato, nor the Fathers of the Church, nor Duns Scotus, nor Erasmus.
Bacon, Hobbes and Locke just think they do, like Rousseau, Kant
and Hegel, Nietzsche, Marx and Mao. Necessity is unmusical,
says Plutarch. And intolerable, says Empedocles. Look at the moth’s
flight round the candle. Look at the flower. Death and unhappiness
will come. But also happiness. See.