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Daniel Heller-Roazen & Susan Stewart in Conversation

October 18, 2011 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Daniel Heller-Roazen and Susan Stewart in Conversation
The Fifth Hammer: Pythagoras and the Disharmony of the World


Labyrinth Books
122 Nassau Street
Princeton, NJ 08540

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Please join us for a conversation with two distinguished critics about the question of harmony through the ages, through the disciplines, and across the arts. They will be discussing Professor Heller-Roazen’s new book, The Fifth Hammer.

An ancient tradition holds that Pythagoras discovered the secrets of harmony within a forge when he came across five men hammering with five hammers, producing a wondrous sound. Four of the five hammers stood in a marvelous set of proportions, harmonizing; but there was also a fifth hammer. Pythagoras saw and heard it, but he could not measure it; nor could he understand its discordant sound. Pythagoras therefore discarded it. What was this hammer, such that Pythagoras chose so decidedly to reject it?

In eight chapters, linked together as are the tones of a single scale, The Fifth Hammer explores the sounds and echoes of that troubling percussion as they make themselves felt on the most varied of attempts to understand and represent the natural world. From music to metaphysics, aesthetics to astronomy, and from Plato and Boethius to Kepler, Leibniz, and Kant, this book explores the ways in which the ordering of the sensible world has continued to suggest a reality that no notes or letters can fully transcribe.

Daniel Heller-Roazen is Professor of Comparative Literature and the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University. He ist the author of Echolalias: On the Forgetting of Language, The Inner Touch: Archaeology of a Sensation, and The Enemy of All: Piracy and the Law of Nations. Susan Stewart is an acclaimed poet, critic, translator, and a Professor of English at Princeton University. The most recent of her five books of poetry is Red Rover; her most recent work of criticism, The Poet’s Freedom: A Notebook on Making, is forthcoming this fall.

Free and open to the public.


October 18, 2011
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm