“So much desire must create a reality.”
William Noel (curator, rare book scholar) makes this fascinating talk on TED about the recent discoveries lying under a byzantine manuscript. As we quickly understand from his speech, in the past it was quite common to re-use paper in order to make new manuscripts. In a byzantine manuscript which was re-discovered in 1906, its then owner found that on some pages, underneath the Christian prayers and illustrations, there was earlier text from… Archimedes! This manuscript was bought at the end of the 20th century by an, obviously wealthy, man whose ambition was to discover, preserve and share this barely surviving treasure.
So the travels of these binded pages in the millenia could be quickly described as various sheets of paper that carry ancient Greek texts by Archimedes and Hypereides, as well as Roman commentary on Aristotle, that manage to survive through the centuries to be reused (written over) and binded into a prayer manuscript during the Byzantine times. In the 21st century this damaged by now book comes into the hands of scientists and scholars who photograph, x-ray, analyze, read through the layers and share the underlying ancient precious texts with the world through the website: Archimedes Palimpsest
It is so beautiful hearing about a contemporary individual who buys a treasure not to store it away but to fund its conservation and its data distribution.
It is also beautiful to hear about such diverse people making up a team and use old & new technologies to bring to light parts of the archeology of human thought, knowledge and wit.
I am startled by the power, creativity and freedom that imagination gives us access to. Startled not so much because through imagination we can escape reality, but mainly because it functions differently on all individuals but it gives us all the possibility to experience events and emotions, or to explore territories that are normally impossible (or just hard) to reach in our ‘real’ life.
I first heard of Ernesto Sabato on Gavdos island. I went to that earthly paradise for a ten day break some years ago and I left on a brilliant day almost two months later. There, in the community of free-campistas I dwelt in silence and in beautiful conversations that kept the same gentle rhythm of rising and passing away, as the sea, the days and the season’s imprints on nature at that dear beach that was our home. While there, we used to call that place the Epicurean Garden.
Just yesterday I found this interview Sabato gave at the ‘Unesco Courier‘ journal for the August 1990 issue. I have highlighted so many phrases in my personal copy, so I thought of sharing some here as quotes but to also include the entire interview at the bottom:
“Is Don Quixote “unreal”? If reality bears any relationship to durability, then this character born of Cervantes’ imagination is much more real than the objects that surround us, for he is immortal.”
“Art can no more progress than a dream can, and for the same reasons.”
“I must be a reactionary because I still believe in dull, mediocre democracy, the only regime which, after all, allows me to think freely and to prepare the way for a better reality.”
“This isn’t a photograph of her — it’s too soon. This is someone else. I keep the real photos hidden, so I won’t stumble upon them accidentally. But I keep them, because they are my story. I know that one day I’ll start a new story with someone else, a better story, and I’ll be able to revisit these images. When I do, it will heal more than hurt. May that time be soon.”
Joshua Longbrake’s caption on his image “The Stand In” on The One Who Got Away in Pictory
Pictory is a site for showcasing captioned photographs from people around the world. From what I have understood, founder and editor Laura Brunow Miner suggests a theme and members can submit one captioned image to illustrate it from their personal, cultural point of view.
Some theme galleries are really interesting. All past theme galleries exist in their archive. I first noticed this site when its ‘current’ gallery was presenting the theme: “The One Who Got Away”. I thought and still think it was a very touching one…