Immediately before taking up woodwork, he’d passionately devoured all the higher mathematics texts in the central library, run all the tutorial software, and then personally contributed several important new results to group theory—untroubled by the fact that none of the Elsyan mathematicians would ever be aware of his work. Before that, he’d written over three hundred comic operas, with librettos in Italian, French and English—and staged most of them, with puppet performers and audience. Before that, he’d patiently studied the structure and biochemistry of the human brain for sixty-seven years; towards the end he had fully grasped, to his own satisfaction, the nature of the process of consciousness. Every one of these pursuits had been utterly engrossing, and satisfying, at the time.
Greg Egan, Permutation City, London, 1994, p. 277