Writing: Arithmetic

Detail from a photo by user Dnalor_01, From Wikimedia Commons, License CC-BY-SA 3.0

Yes, it’s time to begin work on another book on the Liberal Arts. A few years ago I did a book on geometry, which took me a long time to complete.  I’ve been having the idea bothering me in the back of my mind to produce six more books in this series (is it a series if you’ve produced only one?), one for each of the seven liberal arts, if only for my own interest and amusement.  That’s a tall order.  Nonetheless, it’s been calling to me for a while now and it’s grown too loud to ignore.

I’ve been collecting information for it for the grammar and rhetoric books for a while, in part through my association with Toastmasters.  However, it was the idea of producing a book on Arithmetic that won out first.  I know from the Geometry book that it often takes a while of being stuck in the middle of the project, when the advanced work seems entirely too advanced to finish.  So it makes more sense to start this project, knowing I’m going to get stuck in the middle and have to do more research, and not worry nearly so much about the Grammar or Rhetoric books which will be less intensive.

IMG_7990The first set of procedures is to remember how to lay out pages again.  I had to go back to my own resource page on laying out Books of Shadows to find the guide to page harmony, and apply that to the first two pages of the book.  The first two pages are now drafted in pencil, and now are ready to be inked.  I need to get better at using an Ames Lettering Guide, though. The essential process is to create lines across the page that can then be erased after the text is created and inked.  I’m wondering if I should learn a new handwriting style for this project, like architectural handwriting, or if I should stick to my Getty-Dubay Italic style.  I think I’ll stay Italic.

IMG_7994Unlike the Geometry book, which contained a huge number of illustrations, this book on Arithmetic is unlikely to contain anywhere near so many illustrations. A good many of the procedures in medieval mathematics are either abacist  or algorist in nature. These were the two particular schools (although non-competitive with one another, as the ad triangulum and ad quadratum schools of geometry WERE) of medieval mathematics.  The algorists taught the kind of mental mathematics that we expect children to do today, based on Arabic-Hindu numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0) and used Zero (0) and worked with negative numbers.  The abacists worked with small, bead-based counting devices that we would recognize as an abacus although not of the Japanese/Chinese kind (the oldest known abacuses in the world are actually Roman, not Chinese, and the Japanese abacus contains an innovation from the Chinese abacus which is the same as a Roman abacus… counting by ones to four, then shifting a 5ths-place bead, and then counting by fours to ten…).

In any case, the nature of this book means that I can lay out the grid for writing regardless of whether or not I know what’s going to be on the page.  I can erase where I want diagrams to go, rather than wait until I know what the diagram is, and then draw around it.  So this is an improvement on the old projects.

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