Here is a story of aspiration versus attainment that I've known for many years: Jack Vance's Green Magic. I found it online last Monday when looking up the definition of "isthiated": as in
... we have four different regions, two of which floresce from the basic skeleton of the universe, and so subsede the others. The first of these is compressed and isthiated, but is notable for its wide pools of mottle which we use sometimes for deranging stations. We've transplanted club-mosses from Earth's Devonian ...These four regions make up the realm of green magic, which, with its counter-realm of purple magic, lies on an axis orthogonal to that spanned by our own realms of black and white magic. The protagonist, Howard Fair, reads of green magic in notebooks left by his great-uncle, and decides to learn it: to improve his looks; to gain eternal life; and most important of all, because he thirsts for knowledge.
Every mathematician reading this blog will sympathise with the last. (Every scientist too: but the story seems apposite to mathematics more than to experimental science.) But every mathematician also knows how hard it can be to master a new topic in, as a story I once read about Faust and Fermat's Last Theorem called it, "that land where the mind, merely to move about, must follow a discipline more rigorous than ballet". Will Howard Fair master green magic? And will it make him happy?