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Quadrivium & Trivium (2010 / 2016)

You heard about the seven liberal arts, right? I thought it was time to educate myself a little, so I looked around for a book that teaches about them. That became two books which on their turn are compilations of smaller books that have been published before.

So we have ‘number’, ‘geometry’, ‘music’ and ‘cosmology’ in the first book and ‘grammar’, ‘logic’ and ‘rhetoric’ in the second.

I was somewhat disappointed when I saw the fancy presentation of the books. They look like these big audience hip books for cheap bookstores. The texts seemed alright so I started with the “Quadrivium”.

I was not all that bad in math when I was younger, so the first part about ‘number’ was quite alright. It starts with some information about different numbers, but also has more interesting subjects such as Gematria and Gnomons.

‘Geometry’ makes an interesting subject, part of the information I had recently encountered in a wholly different way (a lecture about Jacob Böhme!). When this part moves more towards art-forms it became less interesting to me.

So, the Platonic solids. They were also part of the same Böhme lecture, so I figured this could not be too hard. Hopefully partly because English is not my mother tongue and some words simply mean nothing to me, this section was pretty tough!

This became even worse with the part of the harmonograph, a very interesting device to make music visual, but I stranded in the musical terms and the section after this is… about music. I was pretty lost in that section.

Very interesting was “coincidence in the solar system”. A fascination part about proportions in space which are extraordinary similar to those down here.

Overall, the “Quadrivium” book made me question my IQ a bit too often… And the other book is about subjects many of which I was never really good at and it is in another language too.

“Grammar”, ah, that I can follow even in English. “Logic” was well enough to understand and rhetoric was… Well actually the whole two books are mostly encyclopedias, explanations of terms, rather than learning you how to use it. This is mostly apparent in the “Trivium” book. The “rhetoric” part gives a lot of theory and examples, but I cannot say that I learned much about being a better “rhetorican” and looking back, the same goes for all subjects.

So we have two nice books in which you can look up things about subjects connected to the seven liberal arts, but do not expect to be a ‘homo univeralis’ afterwards. Most subjects span just one or two pages including images. Maybe the books are meant to make you acquainted with the seven liberal arts rather than teaching them.

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