Lethe allows us oblivion of our former experience and happiness, but also of our prejudices and sorrows.
Still, it was the library of his dreams. Wesley imagined an ancient time, centuries ago, long before the building became Astoria’s library, when armies from around the world took turns storming the gate, each determined to obtain the treasures hidden within. It was that kind of place. It stirred something inside of him.
since he had read the Word, the Word was now lodged inside him, even if he had not met the Author; that he had become the Book, the Word made flesh, through that little bit of the divine that the craft of reading allows to all those who seek to learn the secrets held by a page.
I crave the small, tactile simplicity of my new Kindle Paperwhite in its purple leather cover, which is currently home to what would make up around three boxes of physical books, but whose screen’s digital imprint is flattened of all memory and association. It’s soulless and almost weightless. On the other hand, the smug little ereader has not broken my spirit and my knees in the way that disposing of half my library has done, driving me to tears, rage and paracetamol.
The past (the tradition that leads to our electronic present) is, for the Web user, irrelevant, since all that counts is what is currently displayed. Compared to a book that betrays its age in its physical aspect, a text called up on the screen has no history. Electronic space is frontierless. Sites-that is to say, specific, self-defined homelands-are founded on it but neither limit nor possess it, like water on water. The Web is quasi-instantaneous; it occupies no time except the nightmare of a constant present. All surface and no volume, all present and no past, the Web aspires to be (advertises itself as) every user’s home, in which communication is possible with every other user at the speed of thought. That is its main characteristic: speed.
But, hey, this kind of thing’s going on in libraries everywhere, you know. More or less, that is.
Haruki Murakami, The Strange Library
And yet these lessons will prove fruitless. Human libraries, the monster will learn, contain for him only alien literature.
Alberto Manguel, The Library at Night
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 25th, 2014
The Mark of the Devil by William Mortensen at The Grotesque Eroticism of William Mortensen’s Lost Photography — Larry Lytle, VICE
Here are some top gatherum posts from the BBS this week:
- Excerpt from Hugo Gernsmack’s The Scientific Adventures of Baron Munchausen quoted at U-Boats, Spies, and White Magic: The Invention of Wireless Cryptography — Grant Wythoff, Gizmodo
“When one contemplates the marvel of sculptured sound on a graphophonic record, and realizes that from the cold vorticity of line there may magically spring the golden lilt of the greatest song voice that the world has ever heard, then comes the conviction that we are living in the days of white magic.”
- Bringing Back a Lost Museum — Laura C Mallonee, Hyperallergic
“In 1945, workers at Brown University’s biology department were clearing out storage space when they stumbled on a giant trove of natural and ethnographic specimens and artifacts. The collection had belonged to the Jenks Museum of Natural History and Anthropology, founded at the school in 1871 and dismantled in 1915 to make way for new classrooms. Inexplicably, the workers drove 92 truckloads worth of the carefully curated objects to the banks of the Seekonk River, where they unloaded them into a common dump.
Now, the collection has been resurrected from that mire by “The Jenks Society for Lost Museums” — a group of students and professors from Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design — with the help of artist Mark Dion. Like previous attempts to reimagine destroyed museums, their three collaborative installations, on view at Rhode Island Hall, recreates parts of the museum while challenging assumptions about permanence in museum work.”
- The Grotesque Eroticism of William Mortensen’s Lost Photography — Larry Lytle, VICE
“Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of him—he was written into a footnote by the “straight photography” school of the 1950s, and referred to as “the Antichrist” by Ansel Adams, a tag that stuck after Anton LaVey dedicated The Satanic Bible to him. Primarily known as a Hollywood portrait artist, he developed a myriad of pre-Photoshop special effects to craft grotesque, erotic, and mystical images. This fall, Feral House will release [American Grotesque: The Life and Art of William Mortensen], a monograph on his occult photography.”
- Haiti Doesn’t Have a Vodou Problem, It Has a Christianity Problem — France François, Ebony
“Contrary to the Cardinal’s statement, Vodou is not Haiti’s problem; Christianity is. No push to spread Vodou ever wiped out entire “savage” indigenous peoples. Vodou has caused no wars due to a desire to convert as many people as possible. Vodou doesn’t tell “saved souls” that they must be complacent, accepting their lot on Earth for the potential of future salvation in heaven. Vodou never told Black people they were a curse or 3/5ths of a person.
Vodou is of the belief system that sustained our ancestors across the Middle Passage, during the brutality of the plantation, and through the victories of slave rebellions. Haiti should never apologize for it.
Christianity and the West’s real problem with Vodou is that, like the Maroons who practiced it, it remains elusive to those who would aim to profit off of it, package it, and control it.”
- Newly-discovered records show history of black Masonic lodge in Winfield — Dave Seaton, Winfield Daily Courier
“A treasure trove of Winfield history was recently discovered in the dilapidated two-story building at 1307 Main, just north of the Dawson Monument Company.
Realtors Jeff Albright and Jeff Everhart found a trunk upstairs full of records and memorabilia from the former black Masonic lodge here. They also found the lodge’s gavel.”
“In its heyday, the Winfield lodge hosted a gathering of individual chapters of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Kansas, the organization of black Masonic lodges in the state. The event took place Aug. 20-21, 1917. An estimated 200 Masons attended from around the state.”
- From the Introduction by Henrik Bogdan and Jan A M Snoek to Handbook of Freemasonry from Brill
“With roots going back to the medieval guilds of stonemasons, Freemasonry is the oldest initiatory society in the West not dependant on a religious institution. Having lodges in virtually every major city in most parts of the world, it has changed from an originally British institution to a worldwide phenomenon with a wide range of local idiosyncratic features and characteristics. Numbering millions of active members it is also the largest fraternal organization in the world, still managing to attract new members in the postmodern society of the twenty-first century. The continued presence and development of Freemasonry with its rich diversity in practices and interpretations, raises the question what it is that makes such an old phenomenon seem relevant to so many diverse people for over three hundred years? There is no single answer to the question, but part of it surely rests on the fact that despite its emphasis on tradition, transmission and authority, Freemasonry has always been a non-dogmatic organisation in the sense that its rituals, symbols and practices have not had official and final interpretations. On the contrary, Freemasonry is characterised by a striking diversity of interpretation—it is thus possible to find purely moral interpretations of its central symbols, but also scientific, psychological, esoteric, political, philosophical, religious etc. interpretations of the same symbols—a fact that will become more than apparent by reading the various chapters of this handbook.”
- Bible Cross-References — Chris Harrison [HT Hemant Mehta]
“He described a data set he was putting together that defined textual cross references found in the Bible. He had already done considerable work visualizing the data before contacting me. Together, we struggled to find an elegant solution to render the data, more than 63,000 cross references in total. As work progressed, it became clear that an interactive visualization would be needed to properly explore the data, where users could zoom in and prune down the information to manageable levels. Together, we struggled to find an elegant solution to render the data, more than 63,000 cross references in total. As work progressed, it became clear that an interactive visualization would be needed to properly explore the data, where users could zoom in and prune down the information to manageable levels. However, this was less interesting to us, as several Bible-exploration programs existed that offered similar functionality (and much more). Instead we set our sights on the other end of the spectrum – something more beautiful than functional. At the same time, we wanted something that honored and revealed the complexity of the data at every level – as one leans in, smaller details should become visible. This ultimately led us to the multi-colored arc diagram you see below.”
- An Incredible Interactive Chart of Biblical Contradictions — Hemant Mehta, Friendly Atheist
“Now, computer programmer Daniel G. Taylor has taken all that data and turned it into a visual masterpiece.
His website, BibViz (Bible Visualization), gives you the same linking arcs as before, but when you hover over one of them, it lights up and tells you in the upper right-hand corner of the screen which verses are being linked together. Click on an arc and it takes you directly to those verses as compiled in the Skeptics Annotated Bible:”
- Routes of Wholeness: Jungian and Post-Jungian Dialogues with the Western Esoteric Tree of Life — Lloyd Kenton Keane, a thesis
“This thesis compares and contrasts what could be considered two psycho-spiritual traditions: analytical psychology and the Western Esoteric Tradition. A common link between these two traditions is the use of symbols and metaphors of wholeness, specifically the sefirot of the Western Esoteric Tree of Life.”
- Meet the electric life forms that live on pure energy — Catherine Brahic, New Scientist
“Unlike any other living thing on Earth, electric bacteria use energy in its purest form – naked electricity in the shape of electrons harvested from rocks and metals. We already knew about two types, Shewanella and Geobacter. Now, biologists are showing that they can entice many more out of rocks and marine mud by tempting them with a bit of electrical juice. Experiments growing bacteria on battery electrodes demonstrate that these novel, mind-boggling forms of life are essentially eating and excreting electricity.”
- Baleen and sperm whales are ocean’s ‘ecosystem engineers,’ new study says — James Maynard, Tech Times [HT Slashdot]
“Baleen and sperm whales act like ecosystem engineers in the global ocean, according to a new study from the University of Vermont. Whales help maintain the global ecological balance due, in part, to the release of vast quantities of feces.
A new study examined decades of research on the marine mammals and their role in maintaining the balance of life in oceans.”
- Rupert Sheldrake quoted at Scientific Heretic Rupert Sheldrake on Morphic Fields, Psychic Dogs and Other Mysteries — John Horgan, Cross-Check at Scientific American [HT Boing Boing]
“We both agree that science is at present limited by assumptions that restrict enquiry, and we agree that there are major unsolved problems about consciousness, cosmology and other areas of science… I am proposing testable hypotheses that could take us forward and open up new frontiers of scientific enquiry.”
- Aleister Crowley: Legend of the Beast (Review) — Blacktooth, Horror Society
“What astounds me is how ignorance has played into turning Aleister Crowley into a myth instead of a historical figure. Instead of being known as a educated man who was a freethinker that went against the norm he goes down as a Satanist […] This is due to how close-minded the masses are now and how they were then. That is why this bio-pic is so brilliant and powerful. It sheds light on one of the most misunderstood figures in history.”
- Avoid the Uninitiated Mob — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti
“Disregard the angry clamour of the lying masses; avoid the uninitiated mob, and you will know happiness and the truth that is revealed to few.”
- Libraries Are Not a “Netflix” for Books — Kelly Jensen, Book Riot
“It is not the goal of the library to make money. Nor is it the goal of the library to create levels of service so that those who can afford to indulge will receive more while those who can’t, don’t. Instead, libraries work to ensure their services reach as many facets of their community as possible. Libraries want to offer what they can to those who have nothing and those who maybe have everything.
The library is the center and the heart of community.”
If you’d like to participate in the Omnium Gatherum, head on over to the Gatherum discussions at the Hrmtc Underground BBS.