The campus where I work is built around a central concourse of stairs leading up the slopes of Table Mountain. On one side of this bisecting line are mostly arts and humanities buildings; on the other are mostly sciences. Seen from above, the two halves of campus mirror each other like a Rorschach test. Literature has its symmetrical twin in mathematics; architecture is echoed by astronomy, history by biology.  

When a mountain fire swept down from the slopes on Sunday  April 18 2021, embers carried by a hot, dry wind randomly picked out buildings for destruction. The cypresses and creepers outside my office were set alight, but the building survived (just, and with heat-induced cracks in the glass of our windows). But the roof of the Jagger Reading Room just opposite began to burn, perhaps because embers flew into the gaps between the roof tiles. Fire fighters were concentrating on buildings with gas cylinders and stockpiles more flammable than books...

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