Monday, 25 February 2008

Corrections and updates...

A few errata and notes on the virtual pinboard, tacks don't have to be taxing...

(1) Warburg librarian Francois Quiviger kindly points out that my description of the layout of the Warburg Institute (in the Day Two blog entry) wasn't totally precise: though the overall layout matches Warburg's arbitrary Mnemosyne plan, books within a section are arranged chronologically (or rather, by date of author's death). Hmmm... hopefully it'll be 60+ years before his successors will be able to place my book in its final order... :-o

Re-reading my blog entry with Francois' other comments in mind, I think its emphasis (on madness) somewhat diverged from what I originally planned to say. In computer programming, you can "over-optimize" your solution by tailoring it too exactly to the problem: and this is how I felt about the Warburg. One tiny architectural detail at the Institute tells this story: the oddly hinged doors in the men's toilets, that appeared to have been mathematically designed to yield the most effective use of floor space. For me, this is no different to the filing cabinets full of deities, all laid out in alphabetical order: and so the Institute is like a iconological Swiss Army Knife, optimally hand-crafted for Aby Warburg and the keepers of his meme. But the cost of keeping it functioning in broadly the same way goes up each year: programming managers would call it a "brittle" or "fragile" solution, one with a high hidden cost of maintenance.

But am I still a fan of the Warburg? Yes, definitely: it's a fabulous treasure-house that only a particularly hard-hearted historian could even dream of bracketing. And in those terms, I think I'm actually a bit of a softy.

Finally, Francois very kindly offered to put in a reference for me (thank you very much indeed!!): so there should be a happy ending to the whole rollercoaster story after all. I will, of course, post updates and developments here as they happen. :-)

(2) Thanks to a flood of HASTRO-L subscribers dropping by to read my review of Eileen Reeves' "Galileo's Glassworks", Voynich News has just broken through the 1000 visitor mark (and well past the 2000 page-view mark). Admittedly, it's not a huge milestone... but it's a start, right? And though Google seems to like it, only Elias Schwerdtfeger and Early Modern Notes link to it: and nobody has yet rated it on Technorati etc, bah!

(3) Though in the end I was unable to get to the recent CRASSH mini-conference on books of secrets (which was a huge shame), I'm still up for the Treadwell's evening on Magic Circles at 7.15pm on 19th March 2008 (which I mentioned here about ten Internet years ago). Should be fascinating, perhaps see you there! ;-)

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