“Although Dickinson did lead an active life outside the home in her youth, her increasing reclusiveness in her later years give the very notion of house and home a special resonance in her work. As such, the unusual piece pictured below is of particular interest, just one of Dickinson’s many “envelope poems” – the focus of a recent book, The Gorgeous Nothings by Marta Werner and Jen Bervin. In this instance, Dickinson has cut apart an envelope so all that remains are the flap and a portion of the body. She orients the paper so the point of the flap is at the top then she fills that peak with words: “The way hope builds his house…” Or, to phrase it more directly, she writes a poem about a house on a piece of paper that looks like a house.”
“The Schrift-Landschaften drawings are composed of a single text-fragment, written in Herbert Pföstl’s distinctly small script, inscribed upon a page from a nautical traverse table. One is reminded of the particularities of calligraphic expression and the meditative processes required to create needlework samplers, chronological tables, weather diaries, or even telegraphic code. Pföstl’s landscapes of script, however, come from a deep reading of and reliance upon literature; these lines are fragments from books gathered over many years and transformed into a landscape of incantations for the artist. What at first appears a wilderness of words on paper soon resolves into a garland of vows concealed within the text. These works are a meditation on the artist’s abiding interest in the liminal space which often exists between drawing and writing.”
“Indeed, Dostoevsky was not content to “write” and “take notes” in the process of creative thinking, he moved in the space and time of the particular artistic universe of his notebook, where the meaning and significance of words interact reciprocally with other meanings expressed through visual images, a method of work specific to the writer.”
represent that key moment when the accumulated proto-novel crystallized into a text. Like many of us, Dostoevsky doodled hardest when the words came slowest.” Some of Dostoevsky’s character descriptions, argues scholar Konstantin Barsht, “are actually the descriptions of doodled portraits he kept reworking until they were right.”
The manuscripts and codices which survive from the late 15th century are often large and lavish affairs and usually conform to certain norms in terms of shape. But this curious and unusual little gem, which takes its name ‘Codex Rotundus’ from its unique shape, measures just over 9 centimeters across and is circular. Its 266 pages are bound along a spine just 3cm long, so small that three clasps are needed to help keep it closed. Thought to have been rebound in the 17th century, the original clasps which help hold the tiny codex together, were reused. As so many of the manuscripts from this period, it is a devotional text -a lavishly illuminated Book of Hours in Latin and French.
Remnants of a coat of arms, which a subsequent owner appears seems to have tried to obliterate, in the first initial ‘D’ suggests that it was created for Adolf of Cleves…
“The Codex Mendoza is an Aztec codex, created about twenty years after the Spanish conquest of Mexico with the intent that it be seen by Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain. It contains a history of the Aztec rulers and their conquests, a list of the tribute paid by the conquered, and a description of daily Aztec life, in traditional Aztec pictograms with Spanish explanations and commentary. It is named after Antonio de Mendoza, then the viceroy of New Spain, who may have commissioned it. After creation in Mexico City, it was sent by ship to Spain. The fleet, however, was attacked by French privateers, and the codex, along with the rest of the booty, was taken to France. There it came into the possession of André Thévet, cosmographer to King Henry II of France. Thévet wrote his name in five places on the codex, twice with the date 1553. It was later bought by the Englishman Richard Hakluyt for 20 French francs. Some time after 1616 it was passed to Samuel Purchase, then to his son, and then to John Selden. The codex was deposited into the Bodleian Library at Oxford University in 1659, 5 years after Selden’s death, where it remained in obscurity until 1831, when it was rediscovered by Viscount Kingsborough and brought to the attention of scholars.”
“The images, in other words, invite the viewer to engage in a meditation on the nature of the universe and on the links between the earthly and the divine, the corporeal and the spiritual. Of course, such a statement would be equally true of many other instances of early modern alchemical and Hermetic symbolism. I suspect that a lot of the meaning in these images and the text that accompanies them has actually been lost, due to the fact that alchemical practice depended upon face-to-face interactions (like the one between John Dee and Khunrath) which were never recorded. And this was precisely what was intended – the true secrets of early modern alchemy were intended for a small number of the “elect” and were elaborately concealed in complex and often inscrutable language when they were allowed into printed works.”
Timbuktu Manuscripts or (Tombouctou Manuscripts) is a blanket term for the large number of historically important manuscripts that have been preserved for centuries in private households in Timbuktu, Mali. The collections include manuscripts about art, medicine, philosophy, and science, as well as priceless copies of the Quran. The number of manuscripts in the collections has been estimated as high as 700,000.
The majority of manuscripts were written in Arabic, but many were also in local languages, including Manding, Songhay and Tamasheq. The dates of the manuscripts ranged between the late 13th and the early 20th centuries (i.e., from the Islamisation of the Mali Empire until the decline of traditional education in French Sudan). Their subject matter ranged from scholarly works to short letters. The manuscripts were passed down in Timbuktu families and were mostly in poor condition. Most of the manuscripts remain unstudied and uncatalogued, and their total number is unknown, affording only rough estimates. A selection of about 160 manuscripts from the Mamma Haidara Library in Timbuktu and the Ahmed Baba collection were digitized by the Tombouctou Manuscripts Project in the 2000s.
With the demise of Arabic education in Mali under French colonial rule, appreciation for the medieval manuscripts declined in Timbuktu, and many were being sold off.Time magazine related the account of an imam who picked up four of them for $50 each. In October 2008 one of the households was flooded, destroying 700 manuscripts.
“Of all writers Benjamin was the most aware of the technologies that made writing possible. Although there had been ‘reservoir pens’ of one sort or another for centuries, the nineteenth century delivered the first true fountain pens (and a little later ball-point pens). These eliminated the need for the nib to be kept in close proximity to an inkpot, thus making the activity of writing more itinerant. And Benjamin was certainly an itinerant writer, writing in apartments, libraries, cafes and bars. He carried his pens and his notebooks around, as he often did copies of some of the images that most engaged him. He was a mobile intelligence unit moving through the streets of a city. ”
“[Benjamin] attempted “to integrate the principle of the montage as an epistemological technique.” Color charts, schemata, and diagrams act as guiding principles to navigate the thicket of excerpts and quotations. Benjamin’s personal color-coding shows an attempt to make order within the vast constellation of his own notes—a tension between an impulse toward structure and the potential of the open field of his interests.”