As helpful as your new reading material mentions of "The Bible" and "The Utimate Guide To Fellatio" were yesterday, I decided to go with something else. (Let's face it, one I have already read and the other I could write myself.) On my way to my physio appointment with Drew, The World's Cutest Physiotherapist last night I stopped by my local bookstore for a browse.
Can I just say that the true measure of civilisation is late night bookstores, in my humble opinion.
So, I picked up a copy of the biography of Alan Turing by David Leavitt, "The Man Who Knew Too Much: Alan Turing And The Invention Of The Computer". I've only ever known bits and pieces about Alan Turing; the fact that he was a mathematics whizz, that he somehow broke the enigma machine ciphers of the Germans during the second world war, that in doing this he is credited with paving the way for modern computing, that he was gay, that he was found to have committed acts of 'gross indecency' by the moral judges of the day, was subjected to estrogen treatment to 'cure' his inversion and ultimately took his own life.
Not a cheery story by anyone's stretch of the imagination, but a fascinating one. One that highlights the hysteria of homophobia. I mean, nice way to treat a man who probably changed the course of the second world war and had a role in saving thousands of allied services lives.
I'm only 40 pages in, so it's probably not fair to 'review' the book yet. It's interesting to read though that despite the oppressive attitudes of the day that he was no closetted pansy, that Turing accepted his homosexuality with the same matter of fact nature that he accepted mathematical thruths. His comparative openness about it seems to have contributed in part to his downfall.
As a 'gay novelist' Leavitt has written some novels I've enjoyed very much. "The Lost Language of Cranes" for example, which he wrote as quite a young man. He was somewhat of a gay wunderkind (gaykind?, wunderqueen?) for a while there.
This is his first non-fiction work I have read, and at the moment I'm slogging through over a dozen pages of the history of the main players in higher mathematics. It serves its purpose as background, but I'm kind of hoping we can move on soon. I must admit that I find maths a little dry, and so it's almost like I have to blow the dust of the crackling and crumbling pages right at the moment. The bits about Alan himself have been interesting though, so I'm sure it'll start to kick along once I get past this. It's more about my interests probably, than Leavitt's writing. Just how do you make Russell's Theorem or Mathematica Practica sexy anyway?
[Updated: I might be in trouble. I just had an early lunch and read some more and now I'm skipping. You know, like when you read something that has great wodges of French or Latin in it and you sort of read along and go yadda yadda French yadda yadda or blah blah Latin blah blah in your head? I just checked ahead and there are pages and pages of this before I get to the bits about Turing's life. So maybe it's more about the computers than Turing himself after all. I'll persevere. The maths will not best me. Talking Barbie was right, "Math is hard!"]