This might be of particular interest to Clayton Chrusch, Adam Bradley, and Trevor Losh-Johnson, among others.
Frye on Form and Volume
At school I was taught that substances keeping form & volume were solids, those keeping volume but not form liquids, & those keeping neither gas. Even then I could see that there ought to be a fourth class keeping form but not volume. And there is a tradition, though admittedly a very speculative one, which says that there is a fourth class of this kind, & the one that includes all organisms or living beings. Also, that just as solids, liquids & gases have a symbolic connexion with, respectively, earth, water & air, so organisms, especially warm-blooded animals, are units of imprisoned fire. (Northrop Frye’s Notebooks and Lectures on the Bible and Other Religious Texts, CW 13, 208)
Frye on Geometry and Beauty
When I entered University in the old Pass Course I was neither wise nor experienced, being seventeen; but my cultural tastes were formed. I had always done well in English, liked history and languages, thought I could do philosophy, hated science, and loathed mathematics with an adolescent’s fanaticism. However, I had to take math, so I sulkily bought a formidable treatise on “Analytic Geometry,” by someone named De Lury, whom I had never heard of nor wanted to hear of, and proceeded to read the only part of it which it was possible to read, the Preface. At the end of the Preface I came across some such remark as this: “The student should get a sharp pencil & a decent set of instruments, because without clear and accurate diagrams a great deal of the beauty of the subject will be lost.” I stared at that sentence for a long time, and then thought, “By golly, that could be true.” I never got further with mathematics, and never got the point of the subject, but from that day I have never doubted that there was a point to get, and that for those who know it mathematics is one of the major disciplines of beauty. (Northrop Frye’s Fiction and Miscellaneous Writings, CW 25, 14)
[Daniel Bertrand De Lury, a special lecturer in mathematics at the University of Toronto. Analytic Geometry seems not to be in the data base of any Canadian or U.S. library, although De Lury published several volumes on mathematics through the University of Toronto Press for the Ontario Research Foundation.]
Prophetic Genius: Frye the Astronomer
In one of his notebooks he records this fantasy: “In my childhood I dreamed of becoming a great astronomer & discovering a new planet beyond Neptune that I was going to call Pluto.” [Pictured above] Frye calls this a “curious form of e.s.p. that he possesses,” and with good reason, as Pluto wasn’t actually discovered and so named until a decade later. (Northrop Frye’s Notebooks and Lectures on the Bible and Other Religious Texts, CW 13, 68)