Thursday, May 14, 2009

"A more complex ordering system appears in what is known as the largest encyclopedia ever printed: the Qinding Gujin Tushu Jicheng, or Great Illustrated Imperial Encyclopedia of Past and Present Times, of 1726, a gigantic biographical library divided into more than ten thousand sections. The work was attributed to Jiang Tingxi, a court proofreader who used wooden blocks with cut-out pictures and movable characters specially designed for the enterprise. Each section of the encyclopedia covers one specific realm of human concern, such as Science or Travel, and is divided into subsections containing biographical entries. The section on Human Relations, for instance, lists the biographies of thousands of men and women according to their occupation or position in society, among them sages, slaves, playboys, tyrants, doctors, calligraphers, supernatural beings, great drinkers, notable archers and widows who did not marry again."
—Manguel, The Library at Night, p. 49

9 comments:

nblogplay said...

Funny. As "eye inward" as most blogs tend to be, I don't think I've yet encountered a blog format as solipsistic as your new format.

We think too! I swear to you, we--your readers--exist!

William Preston said...

Funny. My aim was, well, if not the opposite than the obverse. I'm not assuming I have anything necessary to say, and I'm not yapping about my life. I'm noting fine moments in my reading life and events (minor though they be) in my writing life.

nblogplay said...

Thus far, the quotes seem to be moments that are perhaps noteworthy to you in the context of your "reading life," but not necessarily universally fascinating. (And by "universally" I mean ME... I don't presume to speak for the *actual* universe.)

So I was getting the impression that you were just noting them here for your own records/future use, is that the intention? It seems like an odd use of a blog--a quasi-public medium, which presumably is meant to invite some kind of discourse. In theory.

William Preston said...

The journal here, as currently constituted, is identical to the handwritten journal I recently started. I have no particular thing in mind in terms of what I want from any reader.

What struck me about the quote here was that list of types of persons included in the encyclopedia: "supernatural beings"? That made me happy.

nblogplay said...

So yeah. We get back to my original comment; that this is a blog that is really meant for one person: you. That is, it's a blog that essentially denies or finds irrelevant the existence of other minds (blog readers).

So is your plan to continue to handwrite your notes in your diary and then duplicate them digitally each time? Blog as a digital backup, as it were?

nblogplay said...

And that didn't sound as I'd intended. It's not an accusation, just an observation...

William Preston said...

If it were "for me," I'd just leave it in a notebook. I think many blogs that include only the talk of and about the "host" are actually more to be heard than for listening. They're the cell phone in print. Much talk. Little said. My thinking is that things I find interesting enough to record, for whatever reason, might be found interesting by someone else. If that starts a conversation, that's good. Teaching most days, I spend more than enough time hearing my own voice.

nblogplay said...

I agree in theory. People are doing some gawdawful navel-gazing and mindless pontificating in their blogs. But what you're missing here is context. You still need to be the mediator for it to be of interest to me.

What would make me come to a blog to read floating quotes by another author? Why wouldn't I just read the author?

Without knowing what the book is about, and maybe what you found interesting about it, the breadcrumbs are missing. Not that I don't sometimes enjoy reading *Bartlett's*, but usually it's for its usefulness as a reference book.

Maybe that's just me, I dunno. I guess we'll have to wait for someone else to comment...

William Preston said...

I take your point. Though I also would like people to go read something to which I refer. In any case, more context does make sense, though, as I said, I'm not that interested in my own voice in such a setting.

I'll think.