Dialogue on the Threshold

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Monday, 25 May 2015

The library of Nara

Apud Japonios, in civitate Narad, vel Nara, templum est augustissimum, quod Cobocui nominatur, Xacae sacrum, a cujus latere Bonzii, eorum sacerdotes, sua atria et cubicula habent, quorum unum, 24. columnis rotundis innixum, Bonziorum bibliothecam continet, tanta librorum copia refertam, ut ipsae etiam fenestrae, libris, quasi lateribus, obstructae sint. 

Jean Lomeier, De bibliothecis liber singularis, second edition, Utrecht, Ex officina Johannis Ribii, Bibliopolae, 1630, p. 352.

In the land of the Japanese, in the city of Narad, or Nara, there is a most majestic temple, called Cobocui [Kōfuku-ji?], sacred to the Buddha, next to one of whose walls the Bonzes, their priests, have their halls and their cells, one of which, resting on twenty-four round columns, houses the library of the Bonzes, crammed with such a multitude of books that even the windows themselves are obstructed with them, like walls.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

The libraries of Hell

Frontispiece, Eloge de l'enfer. Ouvrage critique, historique, et moral. A la Haye, Chez Pierre Gosse Junior, Libraire de S. A. R. 1759.


Descendant in INFERNUM Viventes, ne descendant Morientes.
S. Bernardus, Lib. de Vitâ Solitariâ.

Let them descend into Hell being alive, lest they descend being dead.
St Bernard, On the Solitary Life.


Im Traum, & auch lange nach dem Erwachen, können uns Traumworte die höchste Bedeutung zu haben scheinen. Ist nicht die gleiche Illusion auch im Wachen möglich? Es kommt mir so wor, als unterläge ich ihr jetzt manchmal. Bei Verrückten scheint es oft so. 

In a dream, & even long after we wake up, dream words can seem to us to have the greatest significance. Isn't the same illusion possible too in waking life? It seems to me as though I am sometimes subject to it these days. It often appears to be like this with the insane.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value. A Selection from the Posthumous Remains
ed. Georg Henrik von Wright, trans. Peter Winch, Blackwell, Oxford, 1998, p. 75

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Our present Patriotism

Since Nonsense files with greater Celerity, and makes greater Impression than Reason; though no particular Species of Nonsense is so durable. But the several Forms of Nonsense never cease succeeding one another; and Men are always under the Dominion of some one or other, though nothing was ever equal in Absurdity and Wickedness to our present Patriotism.

David Hume, letter to William Strahan, Edinburgh, 25 of March 1771

Monday, 4 May 2015

La biblioteca

Si el honor y la sabiduría y la felicidad no son para mí, que sean para otros. Que el cielo exista, aunque mi lugar sea el infierno. Que yo sea ultrajado y aniquilado, pero que en un instante, en un ser, Tu enorme Biblioteca se justifique.

Jorge Luis Borges, "La biblioteca de Babel", 1941

If honour and wisdom and happiness are not for me, let them be for others. Let heaven exist, though my place be in hell. Let me be outraged and annihilated, but for one instant, in one being, let Your enormous Library be justified.

trans. James E. Irby