(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Borges

“The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries”*…

 

The Tower of Babel, Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1563)

 

Jonathan Basile, a Brooklyn author and Borgesian Man of the Book, taught himself programming so that he could recreate Borges’ Universal Library [the Library of Babel, which “contained all books”] as a website. The results are confounding. A true site-as-labyrinth, Basile’s creation is an attempt to write and publish every story conceivable (and inconceivable) to man. In the process, Basile encountered new philosophical conundrums, French rappers, and unheard-of porno search strings. The possibilities, after all, are endless…

Browse the Universal Library here; read more of Basile’s prodigious project here.

* Jorge Luis Borges, “The Library of Babel” [“La Biblioteca de Babel”]

###

As we renew our Library cards, we might recall that it was on this date in 1667 that John Milton sold the rights to Paradise Lost to printer/publisher Samuel Simmons for £10.  Milton, who’s worked for Cromwell, was on the outs in those early days of the Restoration.  (Indeed, Simmons kept his name off the title page [below], naming only his sellers.)

That original edition was structured into 10 sections (“books”).  Milton revised his work and reordered it into 12 books, the form we know today; it was published in the year of his death, 1674.  While his motive may well have been, as some critics have suggested, to emulate the structure of Virgil’s Aeneid, a second payday probably also figured in.

 source

 

Written by LW

April 27, 2015 at 1:01 am

“A doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines…”*

 

From  the New School of Architecture and Design, “Failure by Design”– an infographic that charts major architectural blunders through the ages…   Visit the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Tower of Pisa, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and other famously ill-conceived constructions for explications of the miscalculations at work and the lessons they teach.

Click here (and again) for an enlarged version of the full graphic; read about the project here and here.

* Frank Lloyd Wright

###

As we take up our t-squares, we might send exquisitely-wrought birthday greetings to the architect of “The Library of Babel,” Jorge Luis Borges; he was born on this date in 1899.  An accomplished poet, essayist, and translator, Borges is of course best remembered for his short stories.  In reaction to 19th century Realism and Naturalism, Borges blended philosophy and fantasy to create an altogether new kind of literary voice.  Indeed, critic Angel Flores credits Borges with founding the movement that Flores was the first to call “Magic Realism.”

There’s no need to build a labyrinth when the entire universe is one.

 source

Written by LW

August 24, 2013 at 1:01 am

“Nothing is built on stone; all is built on sand, but we must build as if the sand were stone”*…

Calvin Seibert (Box Builder on Flickr) explains his commitment to his ephemeral craft…

Building “sandcastles” is a bit of a test. Nature will always be against you and time is always running out. Having to think fast and to bring it all together in the end is what I like about it.

I rarely start with a plan, just a vague notion of trying to do something different each time. Once I begin building and forms take shape I can start to see where things are going and either follow that road or attempt to contradict it with something unexpected.

In my mind they are always mash-ups of influences and ideas. I see a castle, a fishing village, a modernist sculpture, a stage set for the oscars all at once.

When they are successful they don’t feel contained or finished. They become organic machines that might grow and expand. I am always adding just one more bit and if time allowed I wouldn’t stop.

See more of Calvin’s modernist monuments to mutability here.  Then check out SpongeBob SquarePants‘ “Sandcastles in the Sand.”

[TotH to Colossal]

* Jorge Luis Borges

###

As we gather a collection of rectangular pails, we might spare a thought for Sir James Dewar; he died on this date in 1923.  A distinguished chemist and physicist (Dewar was an expert on the liquefaction of the “permanent gases,” conducting his work at temperatures approaching absolute zero), he is probably best remembered as the inventor, in 1892, of the “Dewar flask,” a vacuum-insulated vessel that can keep liquids at hot or cold temperatures for long periods.   The first commercial vacuum flasks were made in 1904 by a German company, Thermos GmbH, which patented Dewar’s work (as he had not).  Dewar sued to recover his invention, but lost.  “Thermos” remains a registered trademark in some countries; but– in a 1963 decision that sent chills down spines at Kleenex (Kimberley-Clark) and Xerox– it was declared a genericized trademark in the US,  since it has come to be synonymous with vacuum flasks in general.

Sir James Dewar

source

Written by LW

March 27, 2013 at 1:01 am

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library”*…

 

From Babel…

The Library of Babel, “The Library of Babel,” Jorge Luis Borges

In Borges’s classic story, the entire universe is a library, a infinite labyrinth, which contains all books — that is, every possible ordering of letters and symbols, so that one full book of gibberish might differ from another only in the placement of a single comma. “Perhaps my old age and fearfulness deceive me,” Borges’s narrator muses at the story’s end, “but I suspect that the human species — the unique species — is about to be extinguished, but the Library will endure: illuminated, solitary, infinite, perfectly motionless, equipped with precious volumes, useless, incorruptible, secret.” Sigh.

… to Buffy…

Sunnydale High Library, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

At the other end of the cultural spectrum (but then again, maybe not really), sits the Sunnydale High Library, squarely on top of a Hellmouth. Don’t let that scare you away, though! This place has every book you’ll ever need on vampires, spirits, demons and beyond, and happens to be staffed by a very winsome librarian. There’s also a book cage full of weapons, just in case.

…”The Best Fictional Libraries in Pop Culture.”

* Jorge Luis Borges

###

As we renew our library cards, we might recall that it was on this date in 1829 that Henry Trumbull registered (officially published) his biography of Robert Voorhis (1770-1832), an African American slave who later became a recluse in Massachusetts:

LIFE AND ADVENTURES
OF
ROBERT,
THE
HERMIT OF MASSACHUSETTS,
Who has lived 14 Years in a Cave, secluded from human society.
COMPRISING,
An account of his Birth, Parentage, Sufferings, and
providential escape from unjust and cruel Bondage
in early life–and his reasons for becoming
a Recluse.
Taken from his own mouth, and published for his benefit.

PROVIDENCE:
Printed for H. TRUMBULL
— 1829 Price 12 1-2 Cents

 source

 

Written by LW

January 31, 2013 at 1:01 am

“The covers of this book are too far apart”*…

From our old friends at Awful Library Books

Something “borrowed”:

And something blue…

More of each of these (back covers, sample pages) and more tenebrous tomes at Awful Library Books.

*Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

###

As we turn the page, we might send eerie birthday greetings to Howard Phillips Lovecraft; he was born on this date in 1880.  A pioneer of “horror” fiction and SciFi who was almost unknown in his lifetime, H.P. Lovecraft has become one of the most influential writers of the Twentieth Century– Jorge Luis Borges, Joyce Carol Oates, and Stephen King, among many other writers, comic artists, and filmmakers, have all proclaimed their indebtedness.

 source

 

Written by LW

August 20, 2012 at 1:01 am

Last words…

 

Art is endless like a river flowing,
passing, yet remaining, a mirror to the same
inconstant Heraclitus, who is the same
and yet another, like the river flowing.

– Jorge Luis Borges, from The Art of Poetry

To begin perfect happiness at the respective ages of twenty-six and eighteen is to do pretty well; and professing myself moreover convinced, that the General’s unjust interference, so far from being really injurious to their felicity, was perhaps rather conducive to it, by improving their knowledge of each other, and adding strength to their attachment, I leave it to be settled by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience.

– Jane Austen, from Northanger Abbey

This game is seven-card stud.

– Tennessee Williams, from A Streetcar Named Desire

More final sentences from literary works of all sorts at “The Final Sentence.”  (Even more here— from whence the end tile card, above.)

***

As we sum up, we might send carefully-composed birthday wishes to Alexandr Sergeyevich Pushkin; the Russian author was born on this date in 1799 (using the calendar then in effect in Russia).  Pushkin was born into the nobility, an achieved literary acclaim early in his creer.  But his free-thinking bought him trouble with the Tsar.  Indeed, it was while he was under surveillance by the Imperial secret police that he wrote the work for which he’s probably best known, Boris Godunov.

(The people are silent with horror.)

– The stage direction that is the last line of Boris Godunov

 source


	

Doodle-doodle-do…

Sometimes in moments of distraction; sometimes, idleness…  we all do it: doodle.  Lest one feel at all self-conscious about it, our friends at Flavorwire have collected “Idle Doodles by Famous Authors“…

Notes on tango, Jorge Luis Borges (via  Notre Dame University)

Borges’ self-portrait (after he went blind)

Readers can find the casual jottings of Sylvia Plath, Kurt Vonnegut, Franz Kafka, Vladimir Nabakov, David Foster Wallace, and others at “Idle Doodles by Famous Authors.”

As we refill our pens, we might recall that it was on this date in 1888 that Walt Whitman put marginalia to a different use: he sent a sheet of inked emendations to the editors of The Riverside Literature Series No. 32 calling attention to mistakes in their recently-printed version of his poem, “O Captain! My Captain!” “Somehow you have got a couple of bad perversions in ‘O Captain,'” he wrote. “I send you a corrected sheet.”

source: Library of Congress

%d bloggers like this: