Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

On Exactitude in Science – J.L. Borges


… In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast Map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.

Suárez Miranda,

Viajes de varones prudentes, Libro IV, Cap. XLV, Lérida, 1658

Borges, J. L. 1998. On exactitude in science. P. 325,

In, Jorge Luis Borges, Collected


(Trans. Hurley, H.) Penguin Books.


Celebrating 100 Years at the New York Public Library


An exhibit that ranges from a Gutenberg Bible to Kerouac’s Zig-Zags.

One hundred years ago, The New York Public Library opened its landmark building, now known as the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, dedicated to preserving its varied collections and making them accessible to the public. Over time, the Library has radically expanded its holdings, but its founding goals are as central today as they were in 1911. Library curators past and present have been guided by the philosophy that all knowledge is worth preserving. This major exhibition of more than 250 thought-provoking items from NYPL’s vast collections celebrates how the Library has encouraged millions of individuals to gain access to a universe of information during the past 100 years. The first Gutenberg Bible acquired in the Americas is included, as are dance cards, dime novels, and John Coltrane’s handwritten score of Lover Man. Organized into four thematic sections—Observation, Contemplation, Society, and Creativity—the exhibition highlights the collections’ scope and their value as symbols of our collective memory. Indeed, Celebrating 100 Years also documents changes in the way information has been recorded and shared over time, beginning with samples from the Library’s collection of Sumerian cuneiform tablets (ca. 2300 BCE) and culminating in selections from the Library’s 740,000-item Digital Gallery

Lethem on Millhauser


NY Times review.

The Reading Device


A Naturalist and a …


An essential criteria of any accomplished renaissance man is the title of naturalist. Nabokov’s accomplishments as a lepidopterist are well documented, and recently his hypothesis for the evolution of the Polyommatus butterflies migrating to the New World from Asia over millions of years in a series of waves has been scientifically verified.

The Times has another interesting piece on the naturalist in the spy world.

Corporate Cut-Throughs


New Yorkers have an affinity for corporate cut-throughs, public piazzas, building lobbies or any public (or quasi-public) space that lets you slide north or south through the middle of the street without having to double-back to an avenue.

Here’s a New Yorker piece on this underappreciated art:

The goal: to walk from the Empire State Building, on West Thirty-third Street, to Rockefeller Center, on West Forty-eighth, without ever setting foot on Fifth or Sixth Avenue—to knife through tall buildings in a single bound, or at least in stepwise forays.

José Saramago 1922-2010


Saramago’s work is elegant and smooth with seamless movement from fantasy to historical realism. “The Elephant’s Journey” is to be published posthumously on Sept. 8. Full obituary at the Times.

New Yorker’s 20 under 40


The making of the New Yorker’s 20 under 40.

Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer


Steven Millhauser’s short stories guide you into a world that is both fantastic and formal. He is New York’s Murakami and Borges, walking you into realms that hover on the periphery or just below consciousness. Dangerous Laughter and the Barnum Museum are two short story collections that elevate this underrated genre of fiction into the sublime. Millhauser won the Pulitzer in 1997 for Martin Dressler and I was curious to see how his style would translate into a novel. He is as formally sound as he is innovative and intelligent. I might have to read through his entire body of work.

Macondo – A Tour Through Gabriel García Márquez’s Mythical World


Colombia immediately captured Mr. Ferry’s imagination. The quality of “macondiano,” taking its name from the fictitious town of Macondo in the writings of Mr. García Márquez, was present everywhere: inexplicable, surprising, “it couldn’t be, it shouldn’t be, but it actually is,” as Mr. Ferry described it.

When Mr. Ferry received an assignment to photograph “Macondo” for French Geo magazine, he knew to visit Aracataca, where Mr. García Márquez was born and which served as the model for Macondo in “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” But a local journalist, Carlos Marín, said the best place to capture the essence of Macondo was Sucre, Sucre — the town of Sucre in the department of Sucre. Mr. García Márquez lived there as a youth and drew inspiration from the town for “Chronicle of a Death Foretold.”

Mr. Ferry spent three weeks photographing Sucre and surrounding towns. He captured unlikely moments in a place long forgotten. And though he teaches courses in the photographic essay, he takes little personal credit for the images.