In this concluding chapter, I explain why literature is not a simple form of entertainment; provide an overview of how to understand a novel in depth; show how the artistic imagination is formed through non-trivial similarities, comparisons and inferences triggered by a text; weave a link from a cartoon by Raphael to the Stabat Mater; and conclude with a call for a deep and modest reading of literature.
In this chapter, we learn how to model a novel as a dynamical system, the nature of a structure-preserving transformation between dynamical systems, how we may use this idea to understand Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom’s different systems of relationships in John Updike’s Rabbit, Run (1960/1964), why animalistic sexual urges are not the best explanation for this character’s whimsical behavior, and how The Kreutzer Sonata (Tolstoy, / illustrates the fickle nature of personal relationships.
In this chapter, we learn how complex meta-fiction can be, why a loophole is necessary to understand reflective novels, how to better understand Dennis Potter’s Hide and Seek (1973) through the idea of the reflective subcategory, and why a pipe is not always a pipe.
In this chapter, we are introduced to the difficulty of reading, why conceptual mathematics may help us to understand literature, and how what was once called an “idiot savant” and a bunch of talented cartographers can teach us about concrete and abstract nonsense.
In this chapter, we learn how the idea of a fixed point may help us to understand Milan Kundera’s novel Identity (1998), how Banach’s fixed-point theorem may help us to understand what happens to the hero of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis (1968), what C. S. Peirce can teach us about the self, and how retracts and idempotents may help us to resolve the problem of personal identity and the way it is formed in literature.
In this chapter, we learn why dimensionality is important in understanding the complexity of the novel, how repetitions are clues to dimensionality, how to think about dimensionality in terms of orthogonal morphisms, and the meaning of the turd that appears in Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections (2001).
In this chapter, we learn how the idea of natural transformation may help us to understand multiple perspectives in literature, how the idea of an adjoint functor may help us in modeling back-translation, and how category theory can help us to understand the disturbed mind of Bunny Munro.
In this chapter, we learn why coins are tossed into the fountains of Italian plazas, why signs are like mathematical functions, why Elvis Presley’s hair may be considered a sacred object, how the principle of symmetry may explain a surreal event that appears in Boris Vian’s novel Foam of the Daze, and how category theory may help us to understand a sexually loaded myth from the Bronze Age.
In this chapter, we learn how the forgetful functor may explain the way symmetry is formed, how memory and forgetting are associated with the aesthetic experience, what novelists and people suffering from dementia have in common, how Pennywise the Dancing Clown seduced poor George, how father-like figures are formed in literature, and how Dalí’s paintings illustrate the formation of imagination under constraints.