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"To think is to differ" Clarence Darrow "The free man is he who does not fear to go to the end of his thought" Leon Blum "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man" George Bernard Shaw
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    Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius
    Project: The Total Library
    In homage to a thinker who's storytelling indeed creates realities. Excerpts from the short story by Jorge Luis Borges.

    Centuries and centuries of idealism have not failed to influence reality. In the most ancient regions of Tlön, the duplication of lost objects is not infrequent. Two persons look for a pencil; the first finds it and says nothing; the second finds a second pencil, no less real, but closer to his expectations. These secondary objects are called hrönir and are, though awkward in form, somewhat longer. Until recently, the hrönir were the accidental products of distraction and forgetfulness. It seems unbelievable that their methodical production dates back scarcely a hundred years, but this is what the Eleventh Volume tells us. The first efforts were unsuccessful. However, the modus operandi merits description. The director of one of the state prisons told his inmates that there were certain tombs in an ancient river bed and promised freedom to whoever might make an important discovery. During the months preceding the excavation the inmates were shown photographs of what they were to find. This first effort proved that expectation and anxiety can be inhibitory; a week's work with pick and shovel did not mange to unearth anything in the way of a hrön except a rusty wheel of a period posterior to the experiment. But this was kept in secret and the process was repeated later in four schools. In three of them failure was almost complete; in a fourth (whose director died accidentally during the first excavations) the students unearthed - or produced - a gold mask, an archaic sword, two or three clay urns and the moldy and mutilated torso of a king whose chest bore an inscription which it has not yet been possible to decipher. Thus was discovered the unreliability of witnesses who knew of the experimental nature of the search... Mass investigations produce contradictory objects; now individual and almost improvised jobs are preferred. The methodical fabrication of hrönir (says the Eleventh Volume) has performed prodigious services for archaeologists. It has made possible the interrogation and even the modification of the past, which is now no less plastic and docile than the future. Curiously, the hrönir of second and third degree - the hrönir derived from another hrön, those derived from the hrön of a hrön - exaggerate the aberrations of the initial one; those of fifth degree are almost uniform; those of ninth degree become confused with those of the second; in those of the eleventh there is a purity of line not found in the original. The process is cyclical: the hrön of the twelfth degree begins to fall off in quality. Stranger and more pure than any hrön is, at times, the ur: the object produced through suggestion, educed by hope. The great golden mask I have mentioned is an illustrious example.

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    Tue, Oct 28, 2008  Permanent link

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    meganmay     Thu, Oct 30, 2008  Permanent link
    Just recently while I was studying for an ancient history midterm, I was struck by the ways archeologists give names to peoples and sent the following email to a friend:

    perhaps the future is speculative...BUT HISTORY IS JUST AS SPECULATIVE (and just about as fun).
    Fast T     Sat, Nov 1, 2008  Permanent link
    And that's to say nothing about the present.. :)
     
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