Tag Archives: memory

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.

Linda Grant, I Murdered My Library [Amazon]

Hermetic quote Grant I Murdered My Library ereader not broken spirit knees disposing library driving me to tears rage paracetamol

If reading is a craft that allows us to remember the common experience of humankind, it follows that totalitarian governments will try to suppress the memory held by the page. Under such circumstances, the reader’s struggle is against oblivion.

Alberto Manguel, The Library at Night [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher]

Hermetic quote Manuel Library at Night reader's struggle against oblivion

If you held the belief, child, that I knew everything that hid under every stone and leaf, I must disappoint you. I may have my own understanding of how the art works, sharpened by long years of memory, but I do not know how it will work for you. There is a reason I call magic an art, rather than a science. I might guess, but in guessing too hastily I might influence, or even diminish, your talents—taint you with my predictions.

J Kelley Anderson, Casting Shadows [Amazon]

Hermetic quote Anderson Casting Shadows taint you with my predictions

The Incrementalists

The Incrementalists by Steven Brust and Skyler White is a new novel which may be of interest [HT Boing Boing].

Steven Brust Skyler White The Incrementalists

“The Incrementalists—a secret society of two hundred people with an unbroken lineage reaching back forty thousand years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations, races, and time. They have an epic history, an almost magical memory, and a very modest mission: to make the world better, just a little bit at a time. Their ongoing argument about how to do this is older than most of their individual memories.

Phil, whose personality has stayed stable through more incarnations than anyone else’s, has loved Celeste—and argued with her—for most of the last four hundred years. But now Celeste, recently dead, embittered, and very unstable, has changed the rules—not incrementally, and not for the better. Now the heart of the group must gather in Las Vegas to save the Incrementalists, and maybe the world.”

SHADOW

SHADOW: Community of Dreamers [also] is a crowdfunding effort to create “a mobile application that helps you remember and record your dreams.” I saw news of this around and about, but when I noticed that one adviser on the project is Anne Hill, whom I know personally from attending a few of her workshops, that was even more reason for me to find this project of interest.

“Some of humanity’s most incredible scientific discoveries, enduring cultural touchstones and profound philosophical revelations began in dreams. Yet, we forget most of what we experience while asleep within five minutes of waking up. That’s a huge amount of data we forget each day. What would happen if we remembered? We’re here to find out.” [via]

“At its heart, SHADOW is still an alarm clock—just one with beautiful, advanced features. You tell SHADOW what time you want to wake up, and arm the alarm when you go to bed. SHADOW uses a series of escalating alarms to wake you up. The gradual increase in volume helps you better remember your dreams by taking you through your hypnopompic state (the transition from asleep to awake) much slower than a standard alarm clock.

Once you’re awake, SHADOW immediately prompts you to record your dreams via voice, text or question. Speak directly into the app to record your dream, and SHADOW will transcribe it, or type the content directly into the blank text box. If you’re really struggling to remember what you dreamed, you can opt to answer a series of 5-10 questions designed to jog your memory. The whole process takes less than five minutes.

Once the data is recorded in the app, you decide how far and wide to share it. SHADOW is inherently social, but dreaming is intensely private. At every step in the process, you choose who you share your dream content with. Keep dreams to yourself or push them to the cloud, where your personal data is stripped and the content helps provide dream context to users all over the world.

The longer you use the app, the more rewarding the experience. SHADOW visualizes your sleep and dream patterns, and identifies common themes. Using dream content of other users, SHADOW turns these symbols and experiences into insights. And at the same time you’re learning about yourself, we’re working behind-the-scenes to organize all this data into the largest database of human dream knowledge in the world.” [via]

Lilith

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Lilith by George MacDonald:

George MacDonald's Lilith

 

This book has been aptly described by Aleister Crowley as “A good introduction to the Astral.” It is insulted by comparison to the didactic allegories of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books, although they were strongly inspired by MacDonald’s work. Lilith is instead an imaginative portrayal of adult mystical realization, as adumbrated through the distortions of reason, desire, and memory that befall spiritual seekers in the mundus imaginalis. [via]

 

 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.

Hypnerotomachia Poliphili

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Hypnerotomachia Poliphili: The Strife of Love in a Dream by Francesco Colonna, translated by another fellow Joscelyn Godwin [also] from Thames & Hudson:

Francesco Colonna and Joscelyn Godwin's Hypnerotomachia Poliphili from Thames & Hudson

 

For half a millenium, the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili has been one of the great literary enigmas of the Italian Renaissance. This book, the title of which is translated as “The Strife of Love in a Dream,” was written by the Dominican monk Francesco Colonna in the late 15th century. It consists of the amatory adventures of one Poliphilo, who dreams of a search for his love Polia among spectacles of ancient buildings, sculptures and gardens frequented by the gods of pagan antiquity.

Colonna’s Hypnerotomachia does in fact constitute a “missing link” between two critical antecedents of Aleister Crowley’s Thelema: Saint Augustine and Francois Rabelais. Augustine, who wrote “Love, and do what thou wilt,” proposed that the spiritual trinity within the human soul was composed of memory, understanding, and will. In the Hypnerotomachia, Poliphilo represents memory, and he is given two guides: Logistica (understanding) and Thelemia (will). Eventually, when forced to choose between their counsel, he follows Thelemia in deciding upon the path of erotic fulfillment over the options of worldly glory and ascetic contemplation. Florence Weinberg has suggested that Rabelais, who certainly read Colonna and explicitly acknowledged him, was inspired by Colonna’s Thelemia in assigning the name Theleme to his utopian abbey.

The Hypnerotomachia was written in a curious and largely impenatrable “pedantesca,” supplementing the Tuscan vernacular with many Greek and Latin neologisms. One partial translation into English by “R.D.” was published during the Renaissance, when it was also translated into French. The book aroused the most interest in French readers of the 16th and 17th centuries, who usually understood it as an alchemical allegory. Anglophone scholars tended to concentrate attention on the innovative woodcut illustrations, rather than the text. Since 1999 Joscelyn Godwin’s complete and lucid English translation (now available in a more economical second edition) has made it available to readers in a new and powerful way. [via]

 

 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.