Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Exhibit Inspirations: A(nother) Labyrinthine Library

Libraries and labyrinths definitely go together. It's a well-loved literary tradition, from Jorge Luis Borge's "The Library of Babel" to the library in The Name of the Rose. (Actually, I can't think of any others,but there must be some, right? I mean, come on.) Now, as it turns out, a genius bookshop has taken a page from Eco's book (I'm sorry, I couldn't resist) and created a fantastic art space at The Last Bookstore in LA called, yes, the Labyrinth. There's a really delightful piece in the LA Times about it, which simultaneously gave me hope for the future of booksellers in America and pretty much singlehandedly convinced me to go ahead and take a pilgrimage to my least favorite city ever just to see it. (Of course, LA is also the home of another of my absolute favorite labyrinthine spaces ever, The Museum of Jurassic Technology, so I should probably start trying to get funding for my coffee table book about Los Angeles Labyrinths now and kill, like, all the birds with one weighty, photo-laden, hardcover stone.)

Of course, reading about this fantastic space has got me all jazzed about the idea of building my own goshdarned library labyrinth because why not. I mean, if I'm going to be building a museum anyway. The Chapel of the Chimes, a slightly more...esoteric...take on this pairing, is one of the major inspirations for the way I envision the space, although the "books" in that particular intricate nest of stone chapels and mysterious passages are full of people's ashes. (God, the temptation to make "lost in a good book" jokes is killing me.) And, of course, as soon as I started thinking about writing this post, I just had to go and look at about five hundred pictures of libraries - just on Wikimedia alone, mind you, because I wanted to post all the best ones and I'm trying to be good about only using content I have permission for, so this is skipping all the spectacular images to be had just from simple googling. Which is probably a good thing, because when it comes to the collection of labyrinthine library images on the internet, well, a girl could really lose herself browsing...oh, god help me. To avoid any more awful puns, let me simply roll out some of my favorite finds. Remember - these aren't the prettiest libraries. These are the ones I am least likely to ever make my way out of...

This library looks deceptively pleasant. Ha!
No, seriously, you'll never get out of there.
The Bibliothek St. Florian, Austria, by
Stephan Brunker at de.wikipedia.
(GFDL) from Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Exhibit Inspirations: I Wanna Hear People Say 'Can I Help You?'

Sisyphus, Franz von Stuck, 1920.
Public Domain. Via Wikimedia Commons.
I had a string of very bad days recently after reading too many posts on Jezebel about literal, legislative, and psychological assaults on women and their rights. Sometimes I just hit a wall. I get frantic, outraged, angry, bitter, and above all heartsick, pervaded by this kind of vacuumed-out sensation of weak hopelessness and exhaustion that's more than anything like a feeling that happens to me occasionally in dreams when I'm attacked by someone and I try hitting them and I just physically can't do it. The feeling of doors that won't lock, legs that won't run, injuries I can't inflict, safety I can't make for myself. And the worst of it, for me, is the part of that feeling that has to do with the deep and scary suspicion that the men in my life don't care. No, that's not quite right -- that they care, but distantly, or just because they care about me, and there's no way for me to express my boundless feeling of misery, that ground-down sensation of endless burden and Sisyphean toil, that they won't eventually tune out of because it's not their problem.

 What I want is to see the perfectly nice, everyday guys in my life - the ones who don't post about politics or comment on threads about injustice or spend much time considering privilege but who are, nevertheless, thoughtful, decent human beings - reach out to the ladies they know and say "Hey, you know, I read about some truly f%@!&ed-up nonsense being perpetuated on your gender, and I want you to know I've got your back. What can I do?" I want to see straight people doing this for LQBTQ people. I want to see white people doing this for people of color.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Museum Musings: How To Make S#%! Happen

Totally how I picture Time, actually.
By Jeremy Simon (GFDL)
via Wikimedia Commons
I would like to think you've noticed my absence, but the internet is full of clamor and I won't be hurt if you haven't. After all, I've hardly noticed I've been gone. Time, that vast and wheezy accordion, has been compressed, and I've skipped over the pleats and found myself inexplicably in March. (I worry about the speed with which time moves; I'm certain it was slower in my childhood. But that makes perfect sense, really, especially after watching this stunning stop-motion animation.) I can't account for it, other than to say I've been moving, and working, and spending my rare spare minutes dancing and trying to fit my novel in around the edges. If one thing has to falter, it's my life on the internet.

But this blog has been my brainstorming space for my own museum, and much though I love the hours I'm pouring into the Exploratorium (which is going to be so superlatively awesome, you guys, and if you're in SF this weekend you can get a taste of it at our epically awesome and totally free roadshow-slash-street-festival), it's very easy to get so caught up learning and making and working here that I forget to take the time to daydream. Daydreaming is a vital part of any ambitious and bizarre endeavor; if you're trying to create something that doesn't exist yet, how can you know what needs to be done without dedicating hours purely to imagining the possibilities? Fantasy and reality aren't opposites, but complements. Problems arise when you can't distinguish between the two, but creativity occurs in the space where the boundary becomes mutable. Much of what has become our daily life began in fantasy; much of what we envision and dream has its roots in what already is. They nourish each other. 

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