Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

All the Fragments


“Astrophysics, physiology, theology, taxonomy, philology, cosmology, mechanics, logic, poetics, technology. Here we catch a glimpse of a future in which all mysteries are resolved. A time when we are handed the keys to this and other universes. And this will come about because these readers, each working on his slice of universal memory, will lay the fragments of a single secret end to end, a secret with a beautiful name, a secret called happiness.”

Alain Resnais (and Chris Marker), Toute la mémoire du monde, as quoted on Brandon’s Movie Memory.
[ancienne] Bibliothèque Nationale

“The dream of a library (in a variety of configurations) that would bring together all accumulated knowledge and all the books ever written can be found throughout the history of Western civilization. It underlay the constitution of great princely, ecclesiastical, and private ‘libraries’; it justified a tenacious search for rare books, lost editions, and texts that had disappeared; it commanded architectural projects to construct edifices capable of welcoming the worlds’ memory.”

Roger Chartier, The Order of Books: Readers, Authors, and Libraries in Europe Between the 14th and 18th Centuries, Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1994, 62.

The Library is a sphere whose exact center is any one of its hexagons and whose circumference is inaccessible.

Jorge Luis Borges, “The Library of Babel,” Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings, New York: New Directions, 1962, 52.

Brooding at the end of the world on my island of Sal in the company of my prancing dogs I remember that month of January in Tokyo, or rather I remember the images I filmed of the month of January in Tokyo. They have substituted themselves for my memory. They are my memory. I wonder how people remember things who don’t film, don’t photograph, don’t tape. How has mankind managed to remember? I know: it wrote the Bible. The new Bible will be an eternal magnetic tape of a time that will have to reread itself constantly just to know it existed.

Chris Marker, Sans Soleil.

Bookcell matej krén + Borges
Jorge Luis Borges in the Library of Babel

Letizia Álvarez de Toledo has observed that this vast Library is useless: rigorously speaking, a single volume would be sufficient, a volume of ordinary format, printed in nine or ten point type, containing an infinite number of infinitely thin leaves. (In the early seventeenth century, Cavalieri said that all solid bodies are the superimposition of an infinite number of planes.) The handling of this silky vade mecum would not be convenient: each apparent page would unfold into other analogous ones; the inconceivable middle page would have no reverse.

Borges, “The Library of Babel,” Labyrinths, FN1, 58.

References: Matej Krén’s Bookcell

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Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

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