Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

the print museum

in mainz, a print museum with two gutenberg bibles and dozens of priceless antiques across print history in every culture goes into great detail about the processes that produced the books, and scrolls, and wood carvings.

oddly enough, in this museum to the spread of the printed word, they do not provide an accurate representation of what appears inside their priceless artifacts.

look, all ye people, and see ye yon book. this was used to spread information, and was - perhaps - the dawn of the age of information and mass culture. alas, these tools of information distribution are silenced by time and script. no panel or page exists to tell us the content of what we see.

this is a museum of method, not of content.

i asked a man in german why we will never know what the priceless vietnamese royal edict says (printed in elegant letters on a delicate silk covered in hand-painted dragons and clouds. he could not understand me through my thiock american accent, and handed me a card that translated the german panels into english so i can see the methods. always the method. never the words.

where is the museum of words? where is the museum that follows the development of an idea over time instead of just a technology?

i found it. the mainz cathedral was a museum of soul and message. a ghost - i met a ghost there, but he ran away before i could learn from him... seriously i met a ghost in the cathedral. it passed through me in the prayer chapel. i felt him, and almost discerned his name in the cold gust through my body and my skull. i lit a candle from the remains of another candle and watched the flame dance.

the flame carries hope from candle to candle. a museum of content.

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