Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Memo To Those Who Won't Be Born Until 12009*

Fig. 1. M. C. Escher - Drawing Hands, 1948

'Speed and conciseness of style please us because they present the mind with a rush of ideas that are simultaneous, or that follow each other so quickly that they seem simultaneous, and set the mind afloat on such an abundance of thoughts or images or spiritual feelings that either it cannot embrace them all, each one fully, or it has no time to be idle and empty of feelings. The power of poetic style, which is largely the same thing as rapidity, is pleasing for these effects alone and consists in nothing else. The excitement of simultaneous ideas may arise either from each isolated word, whether literal or metaphorical, from their arrangement, from the turn of a phrase, or even from the suppression of other words and phrases.'

Giacomo Leopardi (from Zabildone di pensieri)

* '[Above] all stupendous inventions, what eminence of mind was his who dreamed of finding means to communicate his deepest thoughts to any other person, no matter how far distant in place and time? Of speaking with those who are India, of speaking with those you are not yet born for a thousand or ten thousand years? And with what facility? All by using the various arrangements of twenty little characters on a page.' Galileo Galilei (from Dialogo dei massimi sistemi)


Fig. 2. The death mask of Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837)