Getting it into perspective

I’m pleased to say that there does, indeed, appear to be some renewed interest in applied geometry.  I’m convinced that it was one of the things that separated humans from the lower animals.

Several readers have said that they are intrigued by more advanced geometric techniques like l’art du trait and stereotomy, but found them hard to comprehend and a bit overwhelming. Rightly so, as these techniques have been shrouded in secrecy for centuries, thus assuring carpenters and masons a fair amount of “bargaining power.”   These techniques require the novice to have some level of familiarity with geometry and, sadly, the vast majority of the population has not had that experience.  A few days ago someone asked if I could recommend any books on the subject that might get the “pilgrim” started on the journey.

Well, the novice could start by reading Euclid’s Elements.  But trust me, the plot line is very difficult to follow and it’s easy to loose interest (a statement based on my own experience).  Perhaps the best way to become introduced to trade geometry is to read up on perspective drawing.  Yes, that’s what I said, Perspective Drawing.  Remember, geometry is a way of seeing.  Figuring comes later.

The very best book that I’ve ever come across on the subject is “Basic Perspective Drawing” by John Montague.  There are many editions which indicates to me that it’s one of the best tomes on the subject.  I think the drawing below will support my reasoning.  This is plane geometry:

From "Basic Perspective Drawing" by John Montague

From “Basic Perspective Drawing” by John Montague

Take some quiet time for yourself, with a “wee dram” perhaps, and peruse this book (or any book on the subject, for that matter).  My guess is that you’ll get the connection pretty quickly.  But beware, you may never again look at the world in the same way.

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One Comment on “Getting it into perspective”


  1. Building geometry should develop empirically: straight line, perpendicular, parallel, by theorem. I believe that’s why the logic of geometry is so compelling, and why it is critical to developing sound reasoning skills. One cannot prove unfounded assumptions in geometry.


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