VICTORIA UNIVERSITY OF WELLINGTON Te Whare Wananga o te Upoko o te Ika a Maui

School of Architecture Te Kura Waihanga

ITDN 412



The Dictionary of Imaginary Places

“Samples of Passages from Literary Texts Which Invite Translation into Narrative Design”
The following passages represent a range of literary depictions from the 1st century BC to the 20th century AD. These texts were selected as examples of provocateurs for narrative design. Literal translation is not intended. Rather ask yourself what such passages “imply” that is not literally described. Then ask yourself how you might translate such an implication into a contemporary language of design that is realizable. For instance, what might a lobby, reading room or desk (or book or pen) look like in the Graveyard of Unwritten Books? Once you have an evocative image in mind, consider how you might evolve that image into something that responds to contemporary contexts, yielding a narrative that is meaningful today. These passages are presented as potential starting points for in-depth exploration of narrative design expression. Your translations will ultimately move well beyond these imaginary passages, evolving into concepts and responses that are contemporary and your own. Consider each imaginary description as a seed which has the capacity to grow into a new entity with a unique identity. Quoted passages in this Handout are taken from the books listed below. For original bibliographies of these passages, refer to the Index at the conclusion of The Dictionary of Imaginary Places.
Author Borges, Jorge Luis Calvino, Italo Hejduk, John Title Labyrinths, selected stories. London: Penguin Books, 1970 Invisible Cities. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 1974 Education of an Architect. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. 1988 The Dictionary of Imaginary Places. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 1999 Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. New York: Vintage International 1993 Plato’s Republic. New York: Oxford University Press 1993. Sexing the Cherry. London: The Random House Group Limited 1996. Call No. PQ7797 B635 A6 L PQ4809 A45 C5 E *NA2300 I79 E24

Manguel, Alberto & Guadalupi, Gianni Murakami, Haruki

GR650 M277 D

(DKB Book)

Waterfield, Robin (trans) Winterson, Jeanette

JC71 P3 W325 PR6073 I558 S

Page 1 of 11

. It appears that on this island every form of life has been conceived not by an architect or a sculptor but by a jeweller: birds are coloured crystal. and both wicks lit with one fire. turn away once more and speak from within itself: ‘I am waiting for a camel with two lit candles on its humps. La Isola del Giorno Primo. it answers in a mournful voice that it is waiting for someone who has come from the desert. fish are flat and almost transparent. many never reached the written page. somewhere in Asia Minor. . whose hard soil is cracked with saltpeter. Buenes Aires 1972 The Graveyard of Unwritten Books “The Graveyard of Unwritten Books is a vast complex of galleries beneath the Hotel de Sense in Paris. but has not yet returned. securing books under lock and key. stare at its enquirer’s face. Visitors enter a courtyard at the back of the building. this gallery must be followed to an iron door. or the Well of Locks. Visitors intent on travelling to the Island of the Day Before should know that they will not be allowed to land on the island itself. Milan 1994 The Watcher’s Corner “The Watcher’s Corner is a place on the border between an unnamed settlement and the desert. where a small passage opens in a mossy wall. bordering a small abandoned village. woodland animals are delicate.” Der Nister. it will sit on a rock and turn its worried and mournful face towards the desert.” Nedim Gursel. which had been almost abandoned even then. others were stillborn. Visitors are advised to bring a flashlight and not to be seen with a book in their hands. anchored in its bay. .” Umberto Eco. . when the [being] is weary of watching and walking and exhausted from strenuous expectation. the visitor will find a vaulted gallery dripping with damp.“Samples of Passages from Literary Texts Which Invite Translation into Narrative Design” The Sea of Lost Time “The Sea of Lost Time is a vast stretch of water somewhere in South America. during the first few nights of March.’ And the [being] will tell the traveller about this marvellous camel. in what is known as the Graveyard of Unwritten Books. Upon reaching the bottom of the well. Gedakht. But if the question is asked in the early hours of the evening. all books banned by authorities throughout the world are shut away. Should the traveller ask for whom it is waiting it will. tempting in its delicate hues. People began to return to the village. This leads to a narrow. Istanbul 1990 The Island of the Day Before “The Island of the Day Before is so named because visitors are unable to fix a point in space from which time can be measured. if eaten. . Its fruit. which makes it impossible to inscribe the island in the present. then cast its eyes back to the horizon. . gloomy gallery which in turn leads into an inner. Visitors must knock to be admitted inside what appears to be a vast storeroom for books. refuse to answer. Many years ago. after which it turned its face towards the desert and walked away to bring light and good tidings to all mortals. Visitors should be aware that the island they see may not be the same one others see. a rope ladder allows the visitor to descend into its depths. Some of these books were published and then forbidden. keeping watch in this dreary place. the Daphne. subterranean courtyard. When travellers ask what its purpose is. Berlin 1922 Page 2 of 11 . grants the traveller peace at last. had a candle placed on each of its humps. . the Sea – which normally swept along refuse – started to give off a heady odour of roses. Here. Son Tramway. In this courtyard stands a well. At the centre of the island. “El Mar del tiempo perdido. Uniformed attendants move about in all directions.” Gabriel Garcia Marquez. . stands the Tree of Oblivion. who. It is guarded by a [being] who walks about absorbed in the contemplation of the horizon. if the question is put it during the day. since the landscape seems to mirror each visitor’s own experience of the world. At the bottom of the Sea there are terraces of flowers.” in La Increible y triste hisroria de la candida Erendira y de su abuela desalmada. but must content themselves with observing it from a fully provisioned ship.

La Cite des Tenebres. is surrounded by a jungle thick with gigantic mandrakes and poppies from which hang great numbers of bats known as the ‘birds of the island. Not far from the city lies a motionless black lake of warm water. Their sight has been replaced by a perfected sense of touch which allows them to sense things at a distance. Turin 1972 The City of Dreams “Dream Island. some are long. of false ones. It is surrounded by a disagreeable mist of unbearable smell. . called the Drowsy Waters. When the camel-driver sees. is centred on a large stone cube used for assemblies and meetings. pitch and bitumen.’ A large river. not far from the Fortunate Islands. and next to it two smaller temples. tobacco leaves.” Leon Groc. The City of Shadows is inhabited by people descended from the Chaldeans. moving their arms. made worse by a rain of Page 3 of 11 . on the clay walls of a street passage between two of the houses. murderous. are of diverse aspect. .” Italo Calvino. . The inhabitants. delicate. and already he sees himself at the head of a long caravan taking him away from the desert of the sea. . From here radiate six symmetrical roads lined with small brick houses. known as Dreams. Some are winged or have an astounding feature on their faces. the Night-Traveller. written in cuneiform letters. towards palaces of thick. The city displays one face to the traveller arriving overland and a different one to him who arrives by sea. at the horizon of the tableland. others are hard-looking. but he thinks of it as a camel from whose pack hang wine-skins and bags of candied fruit. the one made of horn allows the passage of true dreams. . In fact. and half-revealed. flows from two sources at the gates of the city. white-washed walls. The atmosphere is dark and humid. The capital. BC st Empi Archipelago “The Empi Archipelago lies in the Atlantic Ocean. the pinnacles of the skyscrapers come into view. the traveller will find to the right the temple dedicated to the Goddess of Night. To the left is the Royal Palace and a square with a fountain. towards oases of fresh water in the palm trees’ jagged shade. the chimneys belching smoke. advancing and swaying. Coming from the port. the sailor discerns the form of a camel’s withers. a windjammer about to cast off. half-hidden by their veils. some are dressed in full regalia. date wine. with the breeze already swelling the sails. reminiscent of human flesh burnt on a fire of sulphur. . The Aeneid. .The City of Shadows “The City of Shadows is somewhere under the Mediterranean. who saw two such gates in another country. he knows it is a city. the white and red windsocks flapping. 1 cen. comforting and dangerous. Paris 1926 Despina “Despina can be reached in two ways: by ship or by camel. The walls of the city are high and rainbow-coloured. . The gates are four: two look towards the Meadow of Indolence – these are made of iron and bricks and through them escape dreams that are fearful. In the coastline’s haze. surrounded by a muddy shore. . . and the one made of ivory. the other side contains a series of caves and tunnels that lead to a volcano and from there to the open air. Travellers are advised to arrive at dusk. The inhabitants of the City of Shadows believe the lake to be the end of the world and have pictured the other side of the lake as a kind of hell. . The city itself. tiled courts where girls are dancing barefoot. and sinful. is difficult to approach because it always seems to draw away in the distance. The sources bear the names of Sleep Eternal and Darkest Night. Visitors can read the history of the City of Shadows and its people. the radar antennae. According to a distinguished Roman gentleman. In the course of their subterranean existence they have lost both their sight and all knowledge of fire – an element they believe to be subtle. . he thinks of a ship: he knows it is a city.” Virgil. built in a wide circle. . one made of horn and the other of ivory. beautiful and graceful. . those of Truth and Deceit. but he thinks of it as a vessel that will take him away from the desert. . in the robes of a king or a priest. the other two open towards the sea. or City of Dreams. Le Citta Invisibili. small and ugly. . an embroidered saddle with glittering fringe between two spotted humps.

. she does not even have to touch the patient. . the friends of the family send little boxes filled with artificial tears (from two to sixteen. very long and difficult to cross. Le cinquiesme et dernier livre des faicts et dicts du bon Pantagruel. which explains why they tend to collapse so suddenly. . Some radical professors are members of the Society for the Suppression of Useless Knowledge…. Visitors will be surprised by the constant uproar that can be heard throughout the archipelago: from no specific location. though its location has been deliberately concealed by travellers who have visited it. . 2 cen. without trees or water. Canterbury) have not taken into account the sheer immensity of its land surface. and is crossed by three rivers: one of Dirt.pitch that sometimes covers the ground. and people find it a nice point of etiquette to know the exact number of tears they ought to send. is reckoned the fittest way of training him for the actual conduct of his affairs in life. as of many people in pain. though covered in snow. and so to prepare him for a set of utterly strange and impossible contingencies.” Lucian of Samosata. Travellers will see the queen [of Entelechy] as young. Her masticators chew everything for her. and the dumb. however. Most passes on these mountain-tops are glaciered. A tune played on this instrument will immediately cure the blind. Toothless. . according to the degree of intimacy or relationship). but in fact she is more than two thousand years old.” Francois Rabelais. fairhaired maidens of sixteen. . True History. . AD nd Entelechy “Entelechy is an island kingdom of unknown location. Erewhonians argue that to teach a boy merely the nature of the things existing in the world around him. The queen is said to perform all natural functions by proxy. less serious complaints are dealt with by her officers. The Musical Bank is socially acceptable. . Those geographers who have placed it in New Zealand (Upper Rangitata district. runs like water and has waves like the sea. Here the principal study is Hypothetics. . is still practicable. but its currency is of no use in the outside world. but the persistent traveller can find one which. This music is also used in all mercantile transactions. Page 4 of 11 . with great towers and fortifications and lofty buildings that look like palaces. . there seems to rise a mingling of cries and lamentations. The only musical instruments in the houses are a dozen large bronze gongs which are kept in the larger drawing room and which the ladies occasionally beat at random. To open his eyes to these possibilities. . Paris.. they pour it into her stomach through a funnel of the finest gold. One of the members of the royal household has the ability to restore women to their youth by recasting them. It can be reached from the sheep-rearing plains that surround it through the gorge of a river that descends from very cold mountains. the queen herself drinks nothing but divine nectar and eats nothing but celestial ambrosia. might contain all manner of things not found in it now. This rejuvenator is. fair and delicately built. . its sounding board of guaiacum. . . one of Fire and one of Blood. unable to restore their heels to their previous state and the recast women are thus shorter than they were in their first youth. 1564 Erewhon “Erewhon is a kingdom probably in central or northern Australia. which they argue. The River of Fire. The island is strewn with thorns and naked blades. bleary hags are transformed into attractive. most of which take place in what is called the Musical Bank. Education is imparted in Colleges of Unreason. infertile. Then. The instrument on which she plays her miraculous music is a curious object: its pipes are made of cassia sticks. The queen herself only cures ‘incurable’ diseases. would be to give him a narrow and shallow conception of the universe. The queen has the ability to cure all diseases simply by playing a tune chosen according to the nature of the complaint the patient is suffering from. The capital of Erewhon is magnificent. its pedals of tussock. and its keyboard of scammony. . but they are minor factions. producing a rather unpleasant sound. its stops of rhubarb. and about which he will have to be conversant during his whole life. When anyone dies. . Although an extremely generous hostess who provides an excellent table for her guests. the deaf. . Only one of the islands has been explored: it is said to be rocky. when they have chewed it finely. . digesting it in their crimson-lined gullets. the leper and the apoplectic.

travellers will see a simple stone pulpit. and strange structures have been built into its walls. or again. pillars and doors can be seen. All that can be seen from above is the upper part of the statue of an angel. and heed that little with far less than our apprehension of what we shall see next. Time walks beside us and flings back shutters as we advance. . Ardistan. weaving a similar pattern of strings which they try to make more complex and at the same time more regular than the other. The crater which formed the lake is completely surrounded by steep walls of rock. Then they abandon it and take themselves and their houses still farther away.” Italo Calvino. Inside. 1909 Fairyland Page 5 of 11 . we presage the leading lines of that which is before us by faintly reflected lights from dull mirrors that are behind us. climbing from the floor to the highest point of the roof. and stumble on as we may until the trapdoor opens beneath us and we are gone. pierced with hundreds of openings. . Erewhon. London 1872 Ersilia “Ersilia is a city of changing location. authority. the temple is lit by window openings which slope horizontally to ground level. with a roof supported by gigantic pillars of rock which were left in place when the chamber was excavated. these doors give access to a vast underground palace with more than three hundred rooms. Like the other underground buildings. which the wind rolls away: spiderwebs of intricate relationships seeking a form. when travelling in the territory of Ersilia. a visitor will come upon the ruins of the abandoned cities without the walls. and deepens the darkness which is in front. travellers will find many workrooms. travellers will also find two. The dead kings and high priests sit here as judges in a courtroom. Built into the rock. At the very bottom of the spiral. in each of which is a candle. Perhaps the most impressive building in the crater is the temple hollowed out within the rock. where in order to establish the relationships that sustain the city’s life. for instance.” Karl Friedrich May. trade. Bamberg. . They say that we are drawn through life backwards. . In their parched hands they all hold notebooks in which the crimes committed during their lifetimes are recorded. only the strings and their supports remain. The acoustics here are such that every word uttered can be heard at the very top of the spiral of seats. perhaps because it is connected with ancient legends of evil. Subterranean passages and ancient covered waterways provide hidden means of access to the citadel. council chambers. that we go onwards into the future as into a dark corridor. Thus. but the light often dazzles us. . It is a huge room.The Erewhonian notion of time is quite peculiar. One is known as the [Chamber] of the Dead because it houses the mummified corpses of the dead rulers of Ardistan. as well as sick-bays and burial grounds. the inhabitants stretch strings from the corners of the houses. We can see but little at a time. white or black or grey or black-and-white according to whether they mark a relationship of blood. The area is feared and avoided by the few who have visited the city. have floors which can be tilted. A balustrade runs along the outer edge of this gently ascending gallery. storehouses and dwelling quarters. the houses are dismantled. Some of the prison buildings. Le Citta Invisibili. or agency. Around its circular walls runs a spiral of seats. To the west of the fortress is the so-called Maha-Lama Lake. The floor of the crater has been dry for centuries. Turin 1972 The City of the Dead “The City of the Dead contains many important secrets. At intervals. The inhabitants then rebuild Ersilia elsewhere. which do not last. The doors themselves are inscribed with letters in several oriental languages. Forever peering curiously through the glare of the present into the gloom of the future. the inhabitants leave. without the bones of the dead. they can be opened by turning a metallic image of the sun. The windows are made of a kind of mica as transparent as glass. around the walls. When the strings become so numerous that one can no longer pass among them.” Samuel Butler. dropping unsuspecting prisoners into deep underground rooms. .

.” George Macdonald. separated by vast air shafts and surrounded by very low railings. Finally. At these feasts.” William Morris. scarcely exceeds that of a normal bookcase. [One house] is a long. from floor to ceiling. . all that can be said in any language is here on a printed page. The island takes its name not from the first settlers but from a company of travellers who reached it during the Middle Ages. . masks the doorway leading to the oval baths of porphyry and to the harem. four hundred and ten pages long. the Door of Dismay and the Door of the Timeless… Time seems longer than in other places.“Fairyland is a country of changing locations which can be visited only by those with a reason for coming. One of the free sides leads to a narrow hallway which opens onto another gallery. The furniture of the house is suspended on racks from the ceiling. accompanied by a wide range of delicacies. . . “La Biblioteca de Babel. cover all the sides except two. not floors. A Poem. the upper and lower floors. the true story of everyman’s death. London 1858 The Library of Babel “Not to be confused with the biblical Babel.’ Inside. . A spiral staircase and a mirror complete the furnishings. Buenos Aires. this library – which some people call the Universe – is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries. the Door of Sighs. The distribution of the galleries is invariable: twenty shelves. Men infer from this mirror that the library is not infinite (if it really were. A thin veil of carnation-coloured silk. Open the doors off the hall and you will see.” in El Jardin de Senderos Que Se Bifurcan. Several interesting buildings should be visited here. on each line eighty black letters. Inside. . the dining table supported by great chains. from rice boiled in almond milk to saffron soup. built against a tall cypress in a small clearing.” William Beckford. identical to the first. the other is a toilet. Phantastes. To dine here is a great curiosity. thousands and thousands of false catalogues. Lucerne 1787 Island of the Wanderers “Its precise location remains unknown. Each of the building’s nine bronze doors bears the inscription ‘This is the asylum of pilgrims. myths of the North and tales of the East. Because the orthographical symbols are twenty-five and because the library is infinite.” Jorges Luis Borges. there are four doors: the Door of Childhood. interminably. but bottomless pits. visitors are urged to visit a cottage on a peninsula which can be reached through several tunnels. Vathek. the translation of every book in all languages. he will find his own shadow which will follow him everywhere. From any of the hexagons one can see. for the visitor must sit in a gilded chair and allow himself to be winched up to join his place setting. It was after their arrival that the custom of twice-monthly feasts began. a journey lasting twenty-one days will seem to the traveller to last twenty-one years. five long shelves per side. their height. On each shelf are thirty-five books of identical format. the autobiographies of the archangels. Everything: the minutely detailed history of the future. Not one of them would allow their feet to touch the floor. Sherbert is served in vases of the same material. . guests are received beneath a vast concave ceiling illuminated by lamps of rock crystal. . London 1868 The City of Words “In the City of Words that I have told you about the smell of wild strawberries was the smell characteristic of the house that I have not yet told you about. Generation after generation of librarians wander through the library in an attempt to find the Book. why this illusory duplication?). 1941 Fakreddin Valley “Fakreddin Valley is a valley [whose] trees shade a gracious building crowned with airy domes. As long as the fire is kept burning in the hearth it is always daytime in the cottage. the refuge of travellers and the depository of secrets from all parts of the world. . the Greeks and the wanderers take it in turn to tell stories and sagas: Greek legends. The Earthly Paradise. each link six inches thick. The family who lived in the house were dedicated to a strange custom. a faithful catalogue of the library. low hut. To the left and right of the hallway are two very small closets: one is for sleeping standing up. Everyone who Page 6 of 11 . On each page are forty lines. Genesis 11:1-9. Should a traveller open the door of a particular closet in this house. . .

In turn. trying not to make a single sound. a passing breeze. 22 Kramgasse. a ghost. the precise position of chairs. some cosmic disturbance will cause a rivulet of time to turn away from the mainstream. at no. Whatever food is left over at the end of the meal is scraped into the pit. regardless of waiting appointments. Such wretched people from the future can be found in every village and every town. Klausen is something of a dandy and hates to have his clothes sullied. At dawn I was leaning out of the window. may decide not to make the trip to Lake Geneva. but there she is. stare. a sheet without soul. but it was there. Richard and Catherine will not marry on 17 December 1908. calling to one another as they go. For if he makes the slightest alteration in anything. the wind. And if she does not go to Lake Geneva on 23 June 1905. Sexing the Cherry. and without Hans Klausen the European Union of 1979 will never occur. An odd place for a traveler from the future. will not give birth to Friedrich on 8 July 1912. If dust messes his clothes. time is like a flow of water. dependent on the births of children. he will stop and painstakingly brush them off. illuminated by conversation and rich in the juices of a wild duck. trying not to bend a single blade of grass. she will not meet a Catherine d’Epinay walking on the jetty of the east shore and will not introduce Mlle. he is forced to witness events without being party to them. the songs of birds at certain moments. at no. celebrating ceilings but denying floors. he may not buy the ointment for his wife. occasionally displaced by a bit of debris. he does not talk but whimpers. I strained my eyes to follow her. When this happens. who has been complaining of leg aches for weeks. When a traveler from the future must talk.” Jeanette Winterson. a rope around my waist. I spent the night in my suspended bed and slept badly. They wear dark. Then I saw her. then quickly creeps across the street and cowers in another darkened spot. At the same time. the movement of people in the streets. Now and then. He has lost his personhood. He is agonized. such a person is crouching in the shadows of the arcade. 19 Kramgasse. just as Peter Klausen is making his way to the apothecary on Spitalgasse this afternoon of 16 April 1905. She was a dancer. The woman from the future. and so their house never ends and they must travel by winch or rope from room to room. She is terrified that she will kick up dust. birds. He is an exile of time. She crouches and waits for the stream of time to carry her back to her own time. who can act at will. that I noticed a woman whose face was a sea voyage I had not the courage to attempt. and walk on. I did not speak to her. She crouches in the shadows and does not return the stares of people. Pedestrians pass. He whispers tortured sounds. but she was gone. in a bad humor. people caught in the branching tributary find themselves suddenly carried to the past. In that case. to make connection backstream. Klausen’s wife. d’Epinay to her son Richard. thrust without warning into this time and this place and now attempting to be invisible in her darkened spot at no. 22. It is well known that the ceiling of one room is the floor of another. She huddles in a corner. The moon was still visible: it seemed to me that I was closer to the moon than to the ground.dines has a multiplicity of glasses and cutlery lest some should be dropped accidentally. If Klausen is sufficiently delayed. without changing them. She was climbing down from her window on a thin rope which she cut and re-knotted a number of times during the descent. Persons who have been transported back in time are easy to identify. for example. . He envies the people who live in their own time. indistinct clothing and walk on their toes. . though I spoke to all the rest. under bridges. For they fear that any change they make in the past could have drastic consequences for the future. but the household ignores this ever-downward necessity and continues ever upward. hiding under the eaves of buildings. and at midnight she put on flat pumps and balanced the yards of rope without faltering. A cold wind numbed my ears. from whence a fearful crunching can be heard. London 1990 Einstein’s Dreams “In this world. in deserted fields. dangling over dinner. in basements. The house is empty now. oblivious of the future. They are Page 7 of 11 . he may destroy the future. soil. He is an inert gas. Just now. Friedrich Klausen will not be father to Hans Klausen on 22 August 1938. knows the Klausen story and a thousand other stories waiting to unfold. ignorant of the effects of their actions. But he cannot act.

. “Las Ruins Circulaires. no one saw the bamboo canoe sinking into the sacred mud. he understood that he too was a mere appearance. The ruins of the fire god’s sanctuary were destroyed by fire. finances. considered his phantoms’ replies. For a moment. which the malarial jungle had profaned and whose god no longer received the homage of men. clouds of silent students filled the gradins. but do not understand. The man was lecturing to them on anatomy. he would not have been able to answer. . ‘Or it is possible to say. The truth is that the obscure man kissed the mud. He felt the chill of fear and sought out a burial niche in the dilapidated wall and covered himself with some unknown leaves. Einstein’s Dreams. She stands next to me looking down at it. profits to be made. cosmography. How is this an ‘old dream’? The sound of the words ‘old dream’ led me to expect something else – old writings perhaps. .’ says the Librarian. The stranger dreamt that he was in the center of a circular amphitheatre which in some way was the burned temple. . ‘Here we have an old dream.” in El jardin de senderos que se bifurcan. The stranger stretched out beneath the pedestal. the faces of the last ones hung many centuries away and at a cosmic height. With relief. At first his dreams were chaotic. somewhat later. the countenances listened with eagerness and strove to respond with understanding.” Alan Lightman. Prints of bare feet. London 1993 Circular Ruins “No one saw him disembark in the unanimous night. nauseous and bloodstained to the circular enclosure crowned by a stone tiger or horse. with humiliation. In a birdless dawn the magician saw the concentric blaze close round the walls. he comprehended with some bitterness that he could expect nothing of those students who passively accepted his doctrines. He walked into the shreds of flame. the old dream is inside of this. though it was supernatural. births. her tone wants not so much to explain to me as to reconfirm for herself. but that he could of those who. . at times. aimless. some figs and a jug told him that men of the region had respectfully spied upon his sleep and were solicitous of his favour or feared his magic. on the violent mountainside. long ago devoured by fire. He was awakened by the sun high above. . The end of his meditation was sudden.’ she prompts. The purpose which guided him was not impossible. magic. would venture a reasonable contradiction. Page 8 of 11 . but then he knew that death was coming to crown his old age and absolve him of his labours. was not deceived by impostors. Her voice is distant. and dragged himself. After nine or ten nights. they are left alone and pitied. This circle was a temple. amorphous. Instead. if someone had asked him his own name or any trait of his previous life. ‘Take it in your hands. for it was a minimum of visible world. But they did not bite into his flesh. with terror. He sought a soul which would merit participation in the universe. as if they divined the importance of the examination which would redeem one of them from his state of vain appearance and interpolate him into the world of reality. . This magical project had exhausted the entire content of his soul. but were entirely clear and precise. then look up at her. both in dreams and awake. I stare at the object before me. they caressed him and engulfed him without heat or combustion. The man. they were of a dialectical nature.not questioned about coming events. Buenes Aires 1941 The Library of Old Dreams “The first old dream she places on the table is nothing I know as an old dream. The uninhabited and broken temple suited him. but within a few days no one was unaware that the silent man came from the South and that his home was one of the infinite villages upstream.” Jorge Luis Borges. where the Zend tongue is not contaminated with Greek and where leprosy is infrequent. He wanted to dream a man: he wanted to dream him with minute integrity and insert him into reality. which once was the colour of fire and now was that of ashes. inventions. dreamt by another. divined a growing intelligence in certain perplexities. about future marriages. something hazy. came up the bank without pushing aside (probably without feeling) the brambles which dilacerated his flesh. .’ I nod. he thought of taking refuge in the river. For what was happening had happened many centuries ago. though it was foretold in certain signs.

All in all. . and as you’d expect. . . I can only show you how it is done. then. with their legs and necks tied up in a way which keeps them in one place and allows them to look only straight ahead. What would it be like if they found that happening to them? Imagine that one of them has been set free and is suddenly made to stand up. and animal models carved in stone and wood and all kinds of materials stick out over the wall. Imagine also that there are people on the other side of this wall who are carrying all sorts of artefacts. .. but not to turn their heads. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. You have only to read them. Page 9 of 11 . she takes the [object] from me and painstakingly wipes off the dust… ‘This is how to read old dreams. And what do you think he’d say if he were shown any of the passing objects and had to respond to being asked what it was? Don’t you think he’d be bewildered and would think that there was more reality in what he’d been seeing before than in what he was being shown now?” Plato. while others are silent. They’ve been there since childhood. . . Think not the feathers washed up on the shore a natural event.’ the Librarian begins. . .’ She shakes her head. but is held like smoke within. There is a sadness about it. . Republic. .’ I set the [object] down on the table and lean back to look at it. ‘And what do I do with the dreams I read?’ ‘Nothing. 4 Cent. there’s an entrance open to the outside world. New York 1993 Evening in Llano “When an angel accidentally falls and drowns in the sea. and up the slope between the fire and the prisoners there’s a road. . Perhaps the dreamreading will tell you. ‘Please show me. an inherent pathos. But there is not a clue… ‘I am to read an old dream from this?’ ‘That is the work of the Dreamreader. [They see nothing] of themselves and one another except the shadows cast by the fire on to the cave wall directly opposite them. ‘I cannot explain. New York 1988 Allegory of the Cave “Imagine people living in a cavernous cell down under the ground.’ ‘How can that be?’ I say. I pick the [object] up from the table once again and feel its weight in my hands. human statuettes.” John Hejduk. if they were set free from their bonds.I pick it up and run my eyes over the surface to see if I can find some trace of an old dream. These artefacts. announcing an ocean storm. don’t you think they’d be bound to assume that the sound came from a passing shadow? . a disembodied vision cast upon a point in the void. beside which you should imagine a low wall has been built – like the partition which [puppeteers] place between themselves and their audience and above which they show their [puppets]. What can be the point of that? Work should have a purpose. the shadows of artefacts would constitute the only reality people in this situation would recognize.’ I say. . to turn his head and walk. The silence does not reside on the surface. the objects which were being carried along. a long way off. at the far end of the cave. . Education of an Architect. its desperately flapping wings send out vibrations that cause a harmonic fluctuation that coincides with the sound of a suppressed cry. There’s firelight burning a long way further up the cave behind them. What do you think would happen. The [object] is enveloped in a profound silence that seems nothingness itself. BC th The Shadow Grounds “I open the door to the Gatehouse and find the Gatekeeper at the back door splitting firewood. . . then. And what if sound echoed off the prison wall opposite them? When any of the passers-by spoke.” Haruki Murakami. It is unfathomable. . . and to look towards the firelight. But then not to do anything with it. I have no words for it. some of the people talk as they carry these objects along. they only see their shadows as well. Smiling faintly. ‘I know that I am to read an old dream from this.’ says the Librarian. . And. I do not understand. eternal.

then motions for me to follow.’ ‘Can I see him?’ ‘Sure. rolling his head on his shoulders. He stares at me with lifeless eyes. and. I just follow the rules. Made my life easier having the help. with a blanket pulled up to his ears.” J. Less attentive to the Study of Cartography. Been looking after it as best I can. Anyway. I steal up the ladder. The Gatekeeper descends the first few rungs.‘Big snow on the way.’ ‘Is my shadow so ill as that?’ ‘The thing is not well. A candle. It is a cellar the size of a small trunkroom. the air cannot escape. and so the College of Cartographers evolved a Map of the Empire that was of the same Scale as the Empire and coincided with it point for point. I have to go burn dead beasts after that. these Extensive maps were found somehow wanting. and shadows have to be put in here. A bed occupies a third of the floor. but only so much a person can do. ‘Not my idea to throw your shadow in here. 1958 The Absent Suitor Page 10 of 11 . ‘We have things to talk about. the craft of Cartography attained such Perfection that the Map of a Single province covered the space of an entire City. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. and the map of the Empire an entire Province. the stale smell of shit and piss assaults the senses. ‘Not well at all.’ I say. then shuts the door behind him and props his axe up against the wall. ‘I need fresh air. This shadow no longer has the strength to stick to you. A. He walks quickly across the enclosure ahead of me. I nod and say nothing. Finally. The floor is earthen. looks like I burn the beasts alone. My shadow hesitates a moment. I should never have left my shadow in a place like this.’ he says. succeeding Generations came to judge a map of such Magnitude cumbersome. overcome by the stench. The Gatekeeper ties the splits into a bundle and tosses it onto a stack in the woodshed. they abandoned it to the Rigors of Sun and Rain. it was my job to begin with. This winter the cold is something fierce. Down below. see that no one is about.’ The Gatekeeper goes over to a corner and lifts a damp wooden trapdoor to reveal not a staircase but a ladder. As the old Colonel has said. I can feel it in the air. ‘I’m not as weak as I appear…’” Haruki Murakami. Your shadow even has it better than some.’ whispers the shadow. tattered Fragments of the Map are still to be found.’ I take off my gloves and warm my fingers at the stove. then beckons me over to his bedside.’ Objection is by now beside the point. but everything has to end sometime. my shadow does not seem to have much time left. ‘Go up and check that the Gatekeeper isn’t listening. I give you a half hour. in the whole Nation. cautiously looking about the room. ‘Four beasts dead in this morning alone. Bad times. Without a window. Beneath the bed is a crockery chamber pot. ‘He’s gone. I brush the snow from my coat and follow him. no other relic is left of the Discipline of Geography. there are two or three shadows crammed in here together. too. and shows me into the lean-to. flickers on a tottering old table.’ the Gatekeeper says. and the dampness in the room chilling. In the western Deserts. In the course of Time.’ answers the Gatekeeper.’ The Gatekeeper leaves. New York 1993 The Map of the Empire “…In that Empire. Many more will die by tomorrow. he comes over and warms his fingers.’ declares my shadow.’ The Gatekeeper takes his key ring off the hook and unlocks the iron gate to the Shadow Grounds. crack open the trapdoor.’ says the Gatekeeper. We got regulations. ‘Down below is a little warmer.’ says the Gatekeeper. not without Irreverence. if you can stand the smell. Travels of Praiseworthy Men. No thrill for me. My shadow lies in bed. ‘You two talk all you want. ‘From now on. Suarez Miranda. Sheltering an occasional Beast or beggar. ‘Not my fault. axe in hand. ‘Your shadow is down below. the sole source of light and heat. It is as cold as an icehouse. unmoving.

the hidden side of towns. were born: from the anxieties of love. But when I managed to get to that hidden side. the hidden side of houses. Shaping Lives: Reflections on Biography. AD (1952 translation by H.In a famous passage in the Natural History. filled the outline with clay and baked it in his kiln.’ ” Italo Calvino: “The Mirror. I was about to turn away when. and she. drew in outline on the wall the shadow of his face thrown by a lamp. 1992 “…modelling portraits from clay was first invented by Butades. it was thought. but my point of arrival was departing… Corinna said: ‘It’s when it relaxes that the bow releases the arrow. Numbers in the Dark 1996 Page 11 of 11 . I concentrated my strength. Not to be outdone. a potter of Sicyon. Thus painting and the plastic arts. when he was going abroad. and it is said that this likeness was preserved…” Pliny the Elder. 1 cent. Book XXXV. He did this owing to his daughter. I tried to study not myself in the mirror but the world behind me: nothing caught my attention. hoping to console herself with the young man’s likeness while he travelled to another country. behind my reflection. Harvard University Press edition) st Numbers in the Dark “It was the hidden side of everything that intrigued me. but to do that it must first be properly tensed. which he hardened by exposure to fire with the rest of his pottery. the hidden side of gardens. Pliny the Elder tells of a Corinthian maiden who traced on the wall her lover’s shadow. there. a potter. producing a three-dimensional version of the absent suitor. the hidden side of televisions. Her father pressed clay on this and made a relief. at the back of the mirror. Rackham. the hidden side of streets. the hidden side of the moon. at Corinth. who was in love with a young man. I thought I saw a presence I wasn’t quick enough to identify and which immediately hid. Ian Donaldson. section XLIII. I realized that what I was looking for was the hidden side of the hidden side… Sometimes. the woman’s father. Natural History. and the ingenuity of a woman. the hidden side of dishwashers. I tensed my will. the hidden side of the sea. I would see it peep out from the opposite side of the mirror… I left the mirror and started to look for the spot where I’d seen the presence disappear… I aimed at where I planned to get to. the Target”.

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