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Posts Tagged ‘books’

Poetics of Wonder: Passage to Mogador

In Africa, culture, literature, North America, writers on May 3, 2014 at 01:20

From: Poetics of Wonder: Passage to Mogador by Alberto Ruy Sánchez, Literal Magazine, http://www.literalmagazine.com

*Chapter VII: On Libraries and  Those Who Inhabit Them

Fifty-six

In Mogador, every open book is always ready to dance inside us. A blink of the eye or a brush of fingers over its pages is all it takes for it to penetrate us swiftly with joy. Once inside, each book meanders through the channels flowing within us and settles, in its own way, in unexpected regions of our flesh. In some they become discernible love handles around the waist, while in others they are converted to muscle, ready for action. And there is always someone who feels that books enhance their sex in thickness, finesse, and depth. In his indispensable Anatomy of Melancholy, the 17th century philosopher Robert Burton provides evidence that the consumption of many books may lead to reflective sadness. Their weight in the blood and the color of their ink increases black bile in avid readers, while the bile of those who limit their reading to only one book has a tendency to turn yellow, the bodily humor of anger, perhaps because they absorb more paper than ink. Quick-tempered dispositions nourish themselves exclusively with those unique books revered as sacred by certain vicious circles.

Fifty-seven

Each new book is considered a metaphor of a birth in Mogador. Or the announcement of the welcome arrival of a foreigner. And the quantity of volumes preserved in the city is always a multiple of the number of its inhabitants. This is why each day one of the librarian’s greatest responsibilities is to maintain that precious proportion whose fluctuations are sensitive to increases and decreases in population, emigrations and wars, as well as euphoric reproduction and plagues.

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Reposted with permission from: Literal Magazine

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My Little Library in Anatolia by Kaya Genc

In books, Europe, literature, war on July 12, 2013 at 19:01

From: My Little Library in Anatolia by Kaya Genc, The Millions, http://www.themillions.com

In 2009, when I was a graduate student in Istanbul, I worked full-time in a newspaper, editing the paper’s books supplement. I was a busy man with lots of editorial assignments on my plate. I had little time to concentrate on my doctoral dissertation — a study of Hegel’s influence on late-Victorian authors. Instead of writing in academic Hegelese, I spent my days behind my office desk where I commissioned, edited, fact-checked, and proofread. A week after my 28th birthday in March, while hard at work on the first draft of a book review, I received a call from the university’s student affairs department. The voice on the other end of the line said there had been a “strange problem” with my academic credits some months ago. The mistake had led to the termination of my enrollment: from this moment onwards I would be subject to the draft.

Come April 10, I had cleared my desk at the office and arrived at an Anatolian city where my six-month-long national service in a gendarme squadron officially began. I was immediately nicknamed “journo” by the commanders. After the initial month of training came to an end my fellow gendarmes were assigned to various positions related to their education. I, the academic-cum-journalist, meanwhile, was given the most intellectual post the commanders could think of.

“I have just made you the squadron’s librarian,” said our lieutenant, a muscular man whose every word was law and from whose super cool sunshades I could see the reflection of my face.

“Here are the keys to the library. Take them! From now on it will be under your responsibility. Clean the place every day! Don’t give books to everyone! Give them only to soldiers you trust! Now get lost!”

I did get lost. And when I hid myself in that room, which was hardly bigger than 100 square feet, I found myself surrounded by a series of dusty books. Although the books were old and deep in hibernation, the people who came to read them were very much alive. So in my small library in a distant Anatolian town I learned an awful lot about what young Turkish men enjoyed reading under the gun. I watched them as they read for relief. I watched them as they read for pleasure. I watched them as they read for keeping sane.

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Reposted with permission from: The Millions

Dr. Cornel West, Philosopher of the Blues by Jeff Sharlet

In books, culture, ethnicity, government, history, North America, philosophy, politics, religion on January 5, 2013 at 05:24

From: The Supreme Love and Revolutionary Funk of Dr. Cornel West, Philosopher of the Blues by Jeff Sharlet, Killing the Buddha, http://killingthebuddha.com

West has been called “perhaps the preeminent black intellectual of our generation” by Harvard’s Henry Louis Gates Jr., himself a candidate for that mantle. It might be more accurate to say that West is the preeminent intellectual of our generation, no qualifiers. No other scholar is as widely read, no other philosopher courted by presidential candidates, no other Ivy League professor referenced not just by other academics but by popular filmmakers (The Matrix trilogy, in which West played a bit role, was inspired in part by his work) and musicians (West has collaborated with Prince, Talib Kweli, and jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard, among others).

West came to his sense of self by way of a peculiarly American convergence of influences. His is not an “only in America” story but an “especially in America” one, part Emersonian self-reliance, part Motown funk. He’s an intellectual mutt in the best sense, a “freestyle, California spirit,” as he puts it, “rooted in gutbucket blues and jazz dispositions.” Even his trademark black suit is layered with influences—beneath jazz and the blues, there’s 19th century Russian literature. “It’s in emulation of Masha,” he says, one of the heroines of his favorite play, Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters, a drama of provincial manners set amidst the Russian gentry. West identifies with the lonely woman at the heart of the story. “She’s wearing black, says she’s in mourning.” Her father has just died, she’s trapped in a pointless marriage with a boring man. “But it’s even deeper than that. How do you make deep disappointment a constant companion and still persevere? There is this sense with Masha, when you see her in that black dress, of having a sad soul with a sweet disposition.”

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Reposted with permission from: Killing the Buddha

Eccentric Characters by BibliOdyssey

In art, books, history, society on August 27, 2012 at 18:04

 

From: Eccentric Characters by BibliOdyssey, http://bibliodyssey.blogspot.ca/

Illustration plates (lithographs) from ‘The Book of Wonderful Characters: Memoirs and Anecdotes of Remarkable and Eccentric Persons in all Ages and Countries, Chiefly from the Text of Henry Wilson and James Caulfield’, 1869

Francis Trovillou – The Horned Man

“In the year 1598 a horned man was exhibited for a show, at Paris, two months successively, and from thence carried to Orleans, where he died soon after. His name was Francis Trovillous, of whom Fabritius, in his Chiurgical Observations, gives the following description:- ‘He was of middle stature, a full body, bald, except in the hinder part o’ the head, which had a few hairs upon it; his temper was morose, and his demeanour was altogether rustic’.

He was born in a little village called Mezieres, and bred up In the woods amongst the charcoal men. About the seventh year of his age he began to have a swelling in his forehead, so that in the course of about ten years he had a horn there as big as a man’s finger-end, which afterwards did admit of that growth and increase, that when he came to be thirty-five years old this horn had both the bigness and resemblance of a ram’s horn.”

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Reposted with permission from: BibliOdyssey

Post-Literacy or Super-Literacy? by Daniel Evans Pritchard

In academia, education, literature, society, technology, writers on July 24, 2012 at 03:25

 

From: Post-Literacy or Super-Literacy?  by Daniel Evans Pritchard, The Quarterly Conversation, http://quarterlyconversation.com

Writing programs form a significant subtext throughout Copula Spiders. The MFA is a booming business, and expert writing advice is not cheaply bought. Tuition at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, where Glover teaches, costs $8,445 per semester, and yet, as he notes, “it is possible to obtain any one of these degrees without writing a publishable sentence, paragraph, story, novel or essay.” Not a ringing endorsement of his employer. Further daring the bounds of professionalism, Glover quotes passages from instructive letters he’s written to students while airing professorial grievances. He may gnash his teeth over the poverty of student writing, but he also revels in his literary superiority—even quoting, analyzing, and commending his own published work.

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Lions in Winter – Charles Petersen

In academia, books, information science, politics on May 14, 2012 at 08:04

 

Lions in Winter – Charles Petersen – n + 1 Magazine

In March 2008, the New York Public Library announced a $100 million gift from private equity billionaire Stephen Schwarzman and a sweeping plan to radically remake its landmark main building on 42nd Street. Six months later, Lehman Brothers collapsed; the plan, to no one’s surprise, was put on hold. Now, the administration has announced that the renovation, its budget increased from $250 to $350 million, is back on track. The proposed designs developed by British architect Norman Foster have not yet been made public, but the basic scheme remains the same: to tear out the steel stacks that occupy almost half of the main building—and that literally hold up the famed Rose Reading Room on the top floor—and replace them with a new circulating library.

That, however, is in the future. What the present will bring is the removal of the majority of the library’s outstanding collection of research-level books, which for most of the past century have rarely if ever been allowed out of the building. These books will be moved to a storage facility in Princeton, New Jersey. Some will remain in the stacks beneath Bryant Park, but the rest of the books in the library’s core collection will be available only by putting in a request and waiting for them to be brought back to New York.

Read part 1 here

Read part 2 here

 

The Rhetorica – BibliOdyssey

In art, books, history on April 27, 2012 at 09:43

 

BibliOdyssey:

Guillaume Fichet (1433-?1480) was a leading humanist figure during the French Renaissance. As a lecturer in theology, philosophy and rhetoric, Fichet was awarded a doctorate and professorship and became Rector of the University of Paris (Sorbonne).

Together with an academic colleague, Fichet was responsible for bringing the newly created printing press to Paris for the first time in 1471, where it was installed at the Sorbonne.

It is with some measure of irony that the manuscript seen above from 1471 – essentially a record, in Latin, of 10 years of secular teachings by Fichet on the art of rhetoric – was also among the earliest books to be published by Fichet’s printing press in that first year.

The top image above shows this manuscript of Fichet’s teachings being presented to a representative from the royal family who sponsored the work, Princess Yolanda of Savoy. A total of four hand-written manuscripts of ‘The Rhetoric’ were known to have been produced.

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