probablytom

A library of thoughts and things worth sharing.

Arline's Letter

— Sourced from Maria Popova, Brainpickings

A heartbreaking tale of Richard Feynman’s first love. I remember reading this first at 20:00 in the office and crying. It’s on absolute love, in the face of certain death.

Feynman began to glimpse the special powerlessness that medical uncertainty can inflict on a scientific person. He had come to believe that the scientific way of thinking brought a measure of calmness and control in difficult situations — but not now.

You can read the entire thing at Brainpickings, here.


Interesting side note: Arline’s coded messages — and later letters with holes and jigsaws — technically constitute ergodic literature. The idea of jigsaws as ergodic literature is novel and fascinating, and if the letters still exist I’ll bet they’d be brilliant to study just for their literary technique.

On a similar note, I’d love to read things written to be difficult to read even for someone like an Intelligence Officer: one where not just non-trivial effort was required, but quite serious effort.