Friday, 31 March 2017

Notes on the Ley - The Library of Alexandria

We have reached the final stop on the Arnolfini Ley which is the site of the Ancient Library of Alexandria in Alexandria, Egypt.

The Great Library of Alexandria, O. Von Corven, 19th century A

It was one of the largest and most significant libraries in the ancient world and were dedicated to the Muses, the nine goddesses of the arts.1 

Clio by Pierre Mignard B

There are nine Muses that represent different artistic concerns and because this Ley has thrown up a lot of esoteric patrons around the book I shall mention Clio, the muse of History. Whose emblem is a book and she is often depicted holding one.2 Quite appropriate for the upcoming weekend. 

The library flourished under the patronage of the Ptolemaic dynasty and functioned as a major centre of scholarship, from its construction in the 3rd century BC until the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC, with collections of works, lecture halls, meeting rooms, and gardens. The library was part of a larger research institution called the Musaeum of Alexandria, where many of the most famous thinkers of the ancient world studied.3

Bust of Ptolemy I in the Louvre Museum C

The library was created by Ptolemy I Soter, who was a Macedonian general and the successor of Alexander the Great.1 Most of the books were kept as papyrus scrolls. It is unknown precisely how many such scrolls were housed at any given time, but estimates range from 40,000 to 400,000 at its height.

The frontispiece of Sir Henry Billingsley's first English version of Euclid's Elements, 1570 D

Ptolemy I Soter was an interesting fellow. He ruled Egypt between 305 – 283/2 BC.4 He claimed to have descended from Heracles and was a big fan of Euclid. Though found Euclid's seminal work, the Elements, too difficult to study, so he asked if there were an easier way to master it. According to Proclus Euclid famously quipped: "Sire, there is no Royal Road to geometry."5 I wonder if they would approve of our Ley Line?

The main bulk of its collection were papyrus scrolls, although codices were used after 300 BC.1 There are many famous donors such as Mark Antony who supposedly gave Cleopatra over 200,000 scrolls for the library as a wedding gift.6 Though most of its collection was acquired by the copying of originals. Galen spoke of how all ships visiting the city were obliged to surrender their books for immediate copying. The owners received a copy while the pharaohs kept the originals in the library.1

Though unfortunately the library met and end eventually, due to events stacked against it. Ancient and modern sources identify four possible occasions for the partial or complete destruction of the Library of Alexandria: Julius Caesar's fire during his civil war in 48 BC; the attack of Aurelian in AD 270–275; the decree of Coptic Pope Theophilus of Alexandria in AD 391; and the Muslim conquest of Egypt in (or after) AD 642.6 

Though a new Library of Alexandria the Bibliotheca Alexandrina opened in 2002 to rekindle the essence of the old one and continue its practice of learning. 


Refrences

1 Murray, S. A., (2009). The library: An illustrated history. New York: Skyhorse Publishing
2 Leeming, David (2005). "Muses". The Oxford Companion to World Mythology. Oxford University Press. p. 274.
3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_of_Alexandria
4 Jones, Prudence J. (2006). Cleopatra: A Sourcebook. University of Oklahoma Press.
5 Robinson, Victor (2005). The Story of Medicine. Kessinger Publishing. p. 80.
6 MacLeod, Roy, The Library of Alexandria: Center of Learning in the Ancient World, New York:I.B Tauris & Co Ltd, 2005.




Thursday, 23 March 2017

Notes on the Ley - Isernia and the Patron Saint of Bookbinders

The fifth point on the Ley is Isernia. A curious stop but proves there is more than coincidence at work along the Arnolfini Ley.  

Isernia is a town in the southern Italian region of Molise, and the capital of province of Isernia.1 The area of Isernia was settled at least 700,000 years ago and the nearby site called Pineta is supposedly the most ancient site where traces of use of fire by humans have been found.2 What has this got to do with books, well nothing. Except that this place was the birthplace of Pope Celestine V and what does he have to do with books! Well I assume nothing or a lot, but he happens to be the Patron Saint of Bookbinders,3 who would have thought it. 
St Peter Celestine by Niccolò di Tommaso, Castel Nuovo A

Patron saints are chosen as special protectors or guardians over areas of life. These areas can include occupations, illnesses, churches, countries, causes -- anything that is important to us.4 Pope Celestine V or rather Saint Peter Celestine as he is know nowadays, became pope in 1294 albeit rather reluctantly.5 He had spent most of his life as a hermit in the surrounding hills content with prayer, ritual flagellation and bookbinding!6 A bookbinding hermit, I find hard to believe but apparently there is truth in it and something that makes the Arnolfini Ley unique. I think he must have detested the job so much and dreams of bookbinding in solitude must of weighed heavy on his mind that five months and eight days in office he quit. He has been called ‘the most inept pope in history’.7 It seems he has become famous for being the first pope who quit. His last decree in office was to declare the ‘right of resignation’.8 The next pope to resign of his own accord was Pope Benedict XVI in 2013, 719 years later. Though he never regained his hermit life due to his successor, Pope Boniface VIII who opposed his resignation and was concerned he may become an antipope figure. So poor Celestine was locked up and later died in prison. 


The coronation of Pope Celestine V in August 1294 B


He was canonised by Clement V on 5th May and was big on miracles. Eighteen in fact were considered by the cardinals on petition of his canonisation, though only 11 were actually taken as truth.9 For reasons of, lack of witnesses or they simply got the wrong guy. I have been hunting and hunting to find a list of his miracles but no joy yet. I was hoping there would be a book related miracle amongst them. Of the ones I have found: He cured a woman of paralysis10 and more excitingly Levitated.9 


C

Saint Peter Celestine’s feast day is celebrated on the 19th May. So take a moment while binding or reading a book, to say a prayer to the Patron Saint of Bookbinders. You can even visit him yourself. His remains lie in the Church of Saint Maria di Collemaggio, in Aquila, Italy.


D


[George]


Refrences 

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isernia
2 Science Magazine
3 The Catholic Library World, Volume 22, John M. O'Loughlin, Francis Emmett Fitzgerald, 1950
4 http://www.catholic.org/saints/faq.php
5 http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j218sd_PeterCelestine_05_19.html
6 The Saint-a-Day Guide, Sean Kelly, Rosemary Rogers 2003
7 Good News for Moderns, Nero James Pruitt, 2015
8 McBrien, Richard P. (2000) Lives of the Popes
9 Mysteries, Marvels and Miracles: In the Lives of the Saints, Joan Carroll Cruz, 1997
10 Contested Canonizations: The Last Medieval Saints, 1482-1523, Ronald C. Finucane, 2011

A https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6b/Celestine_V_Castel_Nuovo_Napoli_n02.jpg
B http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/SODimages5/218_Coronation.jpg
http://assets.atlasobscura.com/article_images/18888/image.jpg
D http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/SODimages5/218_Celest1.jpg





http://catholicnewslive.com/story/26583


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Celestine_V#/media/File:Celestinus_quintus.jpg

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Notes on the Ley - Alessandria and Umberto Eco's private library of books that lie

The fourth point on Arnolfini Ley is Alessandria, a city in Piedmont, Italy, known Borsalino hats and for being the birthplace of Umberto Eco. Umberto Eco is famous as a writer, philosopher and semiotician, as well as a collector of rare books.  Since we are dealing with leylines, it is his extraordinary collection of books on "wrong, zany and occult science, as well as on imaginary languages" (Carriere, p 131) and his views on false beliefs is what we are interested in. 
My collection is very focused. It is a Biblioteca Semiologica, Curiosa, Lunatica, Magica et Pneumatica, or 'a collection dedicated to the occult and mistaken sciences'. (Umberto Eco in Carriere, p 127)  
As a rare books collector I am fascinated by the human propensity for deviating thought. So I collect books about subjects in which I don’t believe, like kabbalah, alchemy, magic, invented languages. Books that lie, albeit unwittingly. I have Ptolemy, not Galileo, because Galileo told the truth. I prefer lunatic science. (in Zanganeh)

I have found remarkably little about Umberto Eco’s collection of books. My own knowledge comes from his conversation with Jean-Claude Carriere published as This is not the End of the Book. Eco himself had admitted that he did not show his collection to many people. “A book collection is a solitary, masturbatory kind of phenomenon, and you don’t often come across people who share your passions.” ((Carriere, p 327) Umberto Eco has 50000 books in his various homes as well as 1200 rare titles. Although a fast reader himself (with a phenomenal memory too) many of the books in his library he had not read. Most of the collection he had accumulated is for research. He does not go to bookshelves to choose what to read, he says. He goes to pick up the book he needs.
 

Here is a fascinating walk though his library:




In This is not the End of the Book Eco and Carriere indulge in a series of brags on the size and contents of their collections. There we find out, that of 1200 rare titles, Eco only owns about thirty incunabula. Although they do include “the essentials”, he says. Of the more curious titles, we find out that Umberto Eco owned “an incunabulum of the influential and deadly which-hunting manual, the Malleuns Maleficarum.”, which was signed by it’s binder with an image of Moses with horns. (Carriere, p 111)
Malleus Maleficarum 1487
There is an interesting part in this brag, where both authors discuss the works of Athanasius Kircher, (insatiable in his lunatic curiosity, as Eco said in Serendipities), of which (of course) Eco has all, except for one - but that one is only a small book with no illustrations, totally devoid of charm, he says. Kircher, according to Carrier, was “a kind of Internet before its time - meaning that he knew everything that could be known, and within his knowledge there was 50 per cent accuracy and 50 per cent nonsence, or imagination.” (Carriere, p. 129)


An excellent visualisation of Kircher’s reasoning for why the Tower of Babel could never reach the moon. According to his calculations, such structure would cause the Earth revolve on its axis. From his Turris Babel, 1679 (St Andrews copy at r17f BS1238.B2K5)

The collection, of course, reflects Eco’s fascination with the potential of erroneous thinking, fantasy and mistakes. Like Flaubert, he says, they both adored silliness. (Carriere, p 131). This pursuit of utopias, fairy-tales and generally wishful thinking, is responsible for a number considerable inventions and discoveries. In Serendipities: Language And Lunacy Eco discusses such events. Christopher Columbus, for example, who stumbled upon America, when looking for India, believing that the Earth was much smaller than it was. Or the Donation of Constantine. Or Marco Polo discovering rhinoceros and believing he had found unicorns (which, were not as gentile animals, as he had expected). Or even the persistent search for Eldorado, which fuelled numerous expeditions. 


 I am fascinated by error, by bad faith and idiocity. (Umberto Eco in Carriere, p 131)

 “Fascinated” is the correct word to describe Eco’s attitude towards the power of falsity. Eco is respectful and never depreciative, because “even the most lunatic experiments can produce strange side effects, stimulating research that proves perhaps less amusing but scientifically more serious” (Eco, Serendipities, p.8)

 At a certain historical moment, some people found the suspicion that the sun did not revolve around the earth just as crazy and deplorable as the suspicion that the universe does not exist. So we would be wise to keep aan open, fresh mind against the moment when the community of scientists decrees that the idea of the universe has been an illusion, just like the flat earth and the Rosicrucians. 
After all, the cultivated person’s first duty is to be always prepared to rewrite the encyclopaedia. (Eco, Serendipities, p.21)

Eco’s inquisitive and openminded attitude towards erroneous, fantastic and wishful theories is helpful when dealing with ley lines: they started as Watkins' mappings of ancient trackways and culminated as New Age fantasies and mysteries.  


Our Arnolfini Ley relies on the same principle as Watkins' leys - it connects the points of importance, which by randomness, luck or divine intervention happened to be on a straight line. We understand that our ley might not be a scientifically sound mapping of objects - as you would expect from a mapping grounded in a theory of mysticism, false science and erroneous thinking.  However, this wishful theory when applied to our reading maps, has revealed sacred aspects of the book, and elegant physical as well as metaphysical alignments between body and book.

It is easy to dismiss ley lines as far fetched, but like with the cases of erroneous thinking mentioned above, there is always a possibility of changing the angle or context of interpretation to reveal the potential and inspiration for another discovery.
The attraction of cranks to leylines is naturally no encouragement to take them seriously: but neither it is a reason for the subject to be rejected. (Timpson, p.8)
[Egidija]



REFERENCES:


Carriere, Jean-Claude; Umberto Eco (2009) This is not the End of the Book. London: Harvill Secker
Eco, Umberto (1998) Serendipities : Language and Lunacy. Translated from Italian by William Weaver. New York: Columbia University Press.
Timpson, John (2002) Timpson’s Leylines. A Layman Tracking the Leys. London: Cassell Paperbacks
Zanganeh, Lila Azam (2008) Umberto Eco, The Art of Fiction No. 197. The Paris Review. Issue 185. [Online]. Available at https://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/5856/umberto-eco-the-art-of-fiction-no-197-umberto-eco (Accessed:  18 March 2017)

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Notes of Alignment. [3. veneration of the book]


The first book I remember seeing was the sacred book, at Mass; it had been placed in full view on the altar, and the priest turned the pages with great respect. My first book was therefore an object of worship. (Carriere, p.294)

An icon of Christ in an antique shop in Thessaloniki (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)


Ley lines mark alignments formed by sacred sites or sites of spiritual significance. Arnolfini Ley is a reading line, which runs between the Library of Trinity College in Dublin and the Library of Alexandria, connecting book related sites. They are special locations marked by the book - an object of spiritual veneration, yet a very material one.
 
Book indeed is an ambiguous object, reliant on the reader to transform it from an object to an abject. Its existence is defined not solely by its physical presence, but also by its immaterial content: book can be a heavy volume of the Bible as well the sacred word of God it contains; it can be an intricately luxurious Sangorski binding and the ethereal rubaiyats of Omar Khayyám included into it. Holding the book allows us to admire it as an object. Reading, however, allows transmission of the intangible between the book and the person. 


Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Fitzgerald, Edward; Illustrated by F. Sangorski and G. Sutcliffe.

Levantine Jews were the first to turn the act of reading into a ritual, the practice, which will later be picked up by Christians and make the base of Christian liturgy.
Babylonians and Assyrians had greatly respected magical texts. […] The respect had never entailed veneration of the written word itself, that is, the sanctification of writing and its physical material. The Levantine Jews introduced just such a sanctification, thereby adding a whole new dimension to reading. (Fischer, p 60)

In discussing ritualistic reading of Leviticus, Wesley J. Bergen suggests, that reading can even replace ritual sacrifice. Text, he says, is not a ritual. It is a text about ritual and it is a sign of absent ritual. It was written to be read and performed, to encourage participation.  Like in the contemporary Christian liturgy, “text becomes part of sacred space and time, the reading of the text becomes part of the ritual.”
Thus, the ritual “reading” Leviticus’ becomes a subsitute for the ritual animal sacrifice. […] Thus, the textualisation of the ritual is balanced by the ritualisation of the text. The command by God to Moses (to speak these words) is fulfilled even while no animals are killed. The movement from animal sacrifice to reading of texts involves some loss and some gain, as all change does. So there is no loss of ritual, only it’s transformation. (Bergen, p7)

Book as the embodied word of God existed throughout the Middle Ages at the center of Christian ritual. Heavily adorned Bibles, often containing relicts of the saints, were seen as incarnations of Christ himself. Early parchment bindings must have made the “body of Christ” metaphor even more visual: the books were made of animal skins, with pores visible on the surface of the page along the words God.  There is certainly something macabre yet sublime in having earthly flesh support the holy scripture.
The analogy between the body of Christ and the letter of scripture would become a Christian commonplace, leading to a long Christian tradition that attempted to apprehend the mystery of Christ as Word through visions of Christ as book. (Kearney, p. 14)
First class relic of Saint Pope John Paul II incased in a Golden Bible
Curiously, I found the idea of incarnate Word explicitly reinforced as as recently as 1965,  by Pope Paul VI in Dei Verbum ( the Second Vatican Council).
The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God's word and of Christ's body. She has always maintained them, and continues to do so, together with sacred tradition, as the supreme rule of faith, since, as inspired by God and committed once and for all to writing, they impart the word of God Himself without change, and make the voice of the Holy Spirit resound in the words of the prophets and Apostles. (Dei verbum

A good example of a ritual book is the Book of Kells, currently kept at the the Library of Trinity College in Dublin, our first point on Arnolfini Ley. This elaborately produced manuscript was produced with the purpose of it being displayed and worshiped. The book remained in Kells through Middle Ages, venerated as the gospel of St Colum Cille, a relic of the saint, brought to Kells together with another book (possibly Book of Durrow) (Library of Trinity College Dublin). The current binding of the Book of Kells exists as four  volumes. The original, however, was one heavy and substantial object. Not unlike religious architecture, such book was not meant to be carried around. It was also not designed to be used for study or even reading. Like churches and cathedrals which housed such manuscripts, medieval altar Bibles were there to evoke awe and reverence, elated to an ineffable and noetic religious experience. They were mediators between the God and the man, in the same way that other icons, relicts, and the the church itself were.



The Book of Kells

It was Reformation that shook up the idea of book as a venerated gilded icon: a process that led Christianity from piety focused upon image to piety focused upon word (Kearney, p. 25) As Erasmus said - scripture and not picture should be at the center of religious experience. Reformation, of course, overlapped with the invention of printing press and a remarkably rapid growth of available printed texts across Europe as well as the spread of literacy.  While Kearney calls this period "the crisis of the book”, it was a period of crisis only in understanding of its the place in faith and liturgy.  All agree, that reading is a transformative act, powerful enough to convert the reader to “true religion” (yet, the reader can be easily corrupted, of course). Seemingly, it was in this period that veneration of the ineffable content of the book overtook veneration of book as an icon. It is not a viewer in the presence of the scripture that benefits from the book, it is the reader.

Veneration of the book needs an active reader, to transform it from an object to an abject. Adoration is not directed purely at the material qualities of the book, but at the noetic aspects of the experience. Like sacred sites, relics, cathedrals (or even, us, people)  books stand not only as solid structures, but also as embodiments of the metaphysical ideas and experiences.

[Egidija]

At a Book (c.1882). Marie Bashkirtseff (Ukrainian, 1858-1884). Oil on canvas. Kharkiv Art Museum.


PS
There is an interesting story which takes worship of the Word of God one step further, bridging it into veneration of any material text.
Ernst Curtius records an anecdote concerning Francis of Assisi in which “the saint picked up every written piece of parchment which he found on the ground, even if it were from a pagan book. Asked by a disciple why he did so, Francis answered: “Fifi me, litteme sum ex quibus componitur gloriosissimum Dei nomen. [My son, these are the letters out of which the glorious name of God is formed].” Here, the incarnation of the logos means that all language - fragments of text, scraps of parchment - has been glorified. Writing itself is sacred. (Kearney, p15)







SOURCES:
Bergen, Wesley (2005) Reading Ritual: Leviticus in Postmodern Culture.  New York: T & T Clark International
Carriere, Jean-Claude; Umberto Eco (2009) This is not the End of the Book. London: Harvill Secker
Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation: Dei Verbum: Solemnly Promulgated by His Holiness Pope Paul V on November 18, 1965 [Online]. Available at http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651118_dei-verbum_en.html   (Accessed:  19 March 2017)
Fisher, Steven Rodger (2003) A History of Reading. London: Reaktion Books.
Kearney, James (2009) The Incarnate Text: Imagining the Book in Reformation England. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
The Book of Kells [Online]. Available at https://www.tcd.ie/library/manuscripts/book-of-kells.php     (Accessed:  19 March 2017)



Friday, 17 March 2017

Notes on the Ley - Booksellers Staircase, Rouen Cathedral

The next stop on the Arnolfini Ley is the ‘Booksellers Staircase’ in Rouen Cathedral.

Rouen Cathedral A

The construction on the current building began in the 12th century in an Early Gothic style though the site has had churches on from the 4th century. It has been added to, fallen down and repaired ever since. 1

Booksellers Staircase - Henk Bekker B


What particularly intrigues and falls directly on the Ley is the ‘Booksellers Staircase’ or the Escalier de la Librairie. This has an important significance on our line as it has both a sacred and book element. 

This late Gothic stair case in Rouen Cathedral was built, under the direction of archbishop William d'Estouteville, by Guillaume Pontis in 1480. The stairs used to lead to the Cathedral library which was situated just above the Flamboyant Gothic arched door. In 1788 another story was built above the library to hold the Cathedral records and the upper flights of stairs were added then. 2

In 1562, during the start of the Wars of Religion, the library was ransacked by Calvinists, when many of the Cathedal's tombs, stained glass, and monuments were damaged. The library was later rebuilt by archbishop Francis de Harley de Champvallon. 2

Booksellers Staircase -Attributed Thomas Shotter Boys, 1803–1874 C

On the north side of the cathedral where the ‘Booksellers Staircase’ are, there was also a book market which is how the stairs got there name. 3

This staircase is fascinating as it exists at a point between around which the veneration of books took place. It is almost a physical embodiment of the Ley and has parallels with the Arnolfini itself. During BABE the Arnolfini will become a  ‘Booksellers Staircase’ . With levels of book sellers between the bookshop on the ground floor to the reading room on the third floor. There is a directional flow of reading energy that will move through these spaces and that also exists on the ‘Booksellers Staircase’ in Rouen Cathedral. 


Refrences

1 Normandy, its Gothic architecture and history: as illustrated by twenty-five photographs from buildings in Rouen, Caen, Mantes, Bayeaux, and Falaise, Frederic George Stephens, A. W. Bennett, 1865.

B https://www.flickr.com/photos/henkbekker/
C http://www.artwarefineart.com/gallery/booksellers-staircase-rouen-cathedral

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rouen_Cathedral#/media/File:Notre-Dame_de_Rouen,_Nave_20140521_1.jpg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:RouenCathedral_Monet_1894.jpg


http://www.mimirosenthal.com/2014/02/26/staircase-of-the-month-february-2014/



Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Notes on the Ley - Arnolfini

The Arnolfini reading room is housed on the third floor of the Arnolfini gallery in Bristol. It is the second stop on the Arnolfini Ley. 

the Arnolfini reading room A

The Arnolfini was established in 1961 as a site ‘…where all the contemporary arts could coexist and interact in order to stimulate creativity, to provoke thought and to give pleasure to a wide range of people.’1

Bristol, Acraman's Quay B

A 1929 aerial photograph of Bush House B

It moved to its current site Bush House in 1975. Bush house was built in the early 1830s for Acraman Bush Castle & Co, for use as a tea warehouse which quickly failed. It was later used for iron and tin plate storage and expanded in the later 1830’s. By 1842 Acraman became bankrupt and in 1846 the building was occupied by George and James Bush, bonded warehouse keepers. Their company remained until the late 1960s and gave Bush house its name.2

Bush House in 1971 C

The Arnolfini gallery took its name from Jan van Eyck's fifteenth century painting The Arnolfini Portrait.1

The Arnolfini Portrait - Jan van Eyck, 1434 D

The Arnolfini Portrait is one of the earliest paintings to assert the presence of the artist within its depiction and links to Arnolfini's consistent concerns: to explore the role of artist as a witness and recorder of what is around them.3 This is an interesting side note that ties in to part of our project. The presence of the body and making you aware of it, is a part of the reason we are exploring reading spaces along the Ley. The act of reading and referencing that act, by drawing your attention to the body, through the hands, is an interesting part of the reading process and draws similarities with the Arnolfini Portrait. Where the Arnolfini Portrait references the artist as 'creator', our project references the hands as 'creator' and more importantly 'activator' of content. This process of the hands relationship through the book and the repeated actions of reading we have seen already at the Trinity College Library Dublin, through the devotional Book of Kells.  

the Arnolfini reading room A

We will take up residency in the reading room, which will become the focus of the Arnolfini Ley during BABE. The reading room is a space that houses a collection of contemporary art books, magazines and other resources that relate to the Arnolfini’s current programme. It is a space where ideas behind the exhibitions and events centre. Like a supplement to the visual art and events that appear throughout the gallery spaces, the reading room acts in the same was as an ‘orrery’. With an exhibition as a point at the centre, thoughts move around this point to add depth and understanding to the whole exhibit. 

A repeated action here is the action of acquiring knowledge, with a specific aim to be read. It is how, I think we came to be drawn to this part of the Ley. The centring of knowledge around a specific event such as BABE, gives the reading room an important role. Allowing us to explore and explain our thoughts around the alignment project. Using the space to build up a collection of ideas that act in the spirit of the reading room. 

the Arnolfini gallery E


References

3 Hedley, Gill (May 2007). "Rees, Jeremy Martin". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.



Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Notes on the Ley - The Trinity College Library, Dublin

A series of posts are going to run alongside the 'Notes of Alingnment' called 'Notes on the Ley' that explore the points of interest that run along the Arnolfini Ley. The line itself connects various sites of reading and book veneration amongst other interesting places. There are some fascinating connections that make the line interesting from a reading and book perspective. The acts of reading at these points give the Arnolfini Ley a synergy of gesture that we can tap into and explore.

The Long Room, Trinity College Library A

The first stop is the Trinity College Library in Dublin. Which has the stunningly iconic library space that is the Long Room. 

The Library was founded in 1592 with the founding of the College. The famous long room (pictured above) was built between 1712 and 1732 and houses 200,000 of the Library's oldest books. The Long Room originally had a flat ceiling and shelving for books only on the lower level.1 But by the 1850s the room had to be expanded as the current shelves were full. The Library was endowed with a Legal Deposit privilege in 1801, which meant (and still does) it received a copy of materials published in the United Kingdom and Ireland, vastly expanding the collection.2 

The Long Room, Trinity College Library as it existed before the extension. B


Altogether the Library houses over 6 million printed volumes with the most famous one being the Book of Kells, which was donated in 1661 by Henry Jones the then Vice Chancellor of Trinity College.2 

Folio 2r of the Book of Kells C

Folio 291v contains a portrait of John the Evangelist. D

The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels of the New Testament in latin and believed to have been created c. 800 AD. 

The manuscript takes its name from the Abbey of Kells in Kells, County Meath, where it was kept for centuries.3 The book is thought to have had a more sacramental rather than educational purpose. In this sense, it would have been used more as a venerated object and as the focus of sacred and devotional events within the abbey. It would have been placed on the high altar of the church and removed only for the reading of the Gospel during Mass.4

The book can be viewed online in full here: http://digitalcollections.tcd.ie/home/index.php?DRIS_ID=MS58_003v

Although this book no longer exists in a church it is interesting that it would appear on the Arnolfini Ley. The Arnolfini Ley came about from the reading and reverence of books and the repeated actions of reading that exist along it. Nothing typifies this reverence than a book made for ceremony. The intense focus upon the repeated act of reading has found its place on the Arnolfini Ley and brings the Trinity College Library in alignment with the other points. Even today the book is visited and read by people almost as a pilgrimage. It has become the focus and centre of the Long Room from which the Ley radiates out from. 


Roger Powell rebinding the Book of Kells E

A repeated act that is also to note and concerns the hands relationship to the book and the repeated actions that they produce, is in its binding. By its very nature the act of reading is destructive and to preserve the book it has had to be rebound. Sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. A destructive rebind in the 19th century saw the book drastically reduced in size and its edges trimmed and gilded.5 



Roger Powell talking about binding F

More recently in the 1950s the book of Kells was rebound from one into four volumes by bookbinder Roger Powell to stretch and preserve several pages that had developed bulges.3 This rebinding has changed the experience of the book. Its pace though reading and handling and through the movement of hands. Even now as it lies on display in the Trinity College Library only two copies are out at any one time. Though they can't be held, they can be read next to each other and the reading of it in this way has transformed its whole appreciation. 

[George]


References

1 "Book of Kells - The Old Library & the Book of Kells Exhibition : Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin, Ireland". Tcd.ie. 2014-12-04
2 http://www.tcd.ie/library/about/history.php
3 https://www.inyourpocket.com/dublin/Book-Of-Kells_34924v
4 Calkins, Robert G. (1983). Illuminated Books of the Middle Ages. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-1506-3.
5 http://www.tcd.ie/library/manuscripts/book-of-kells.php

A https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Long_Room_Interior,_Trinity_College_Dublin,_Ireland_-_Diliff.jpg

B https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/70/James_Malton_Trinity_College_Library_Dublin.jpg
C https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:KellsFol005rCanonTable.jpg
D https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:KellsFol291vPortJohn.jpg
E http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/from-the-archive-handled-with-care-and-great-dedication-1.2908763
F http://www3.hants.gov.uk/wfsa/sound/craft-recordings/bookbinder.htm


http://www.libraryireland.com/IrishPictures/I-2.php

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nlireland/6713554905

http://www3.slv.vic.gov.au/latrobejournal/issue/latrobe-46/fig-latrobe-46-052a.html