Friday, July 15, 2011

surprising volumes

There is a wise man in one of Douglas Adams' books who lives in a very strange house on the beach in California. He's the one to whom the dolphins gave their only parting gift when they abandoned the planet before its destruction. The house is an insane asylum for the world, and its builder employed some architectural wizardry to give one the impression that the exterior was an interior, and only by passing through the front door could one enter the real world, where things make sense. I don't recall right now what the "outside" (inside) of the house looked like, but the literal exterior of the house was crown molding and lighting fixtures, mind-bending junctions of wall and ceiling, wallpaper and chairs.
The building was an insane asylum to house the entire world, and the one man who knew beyond a doubt that the world had gone mad - and that therefore he must live outside of it if he must live at all - had built it in brilliant desperation.

There is of course the Wardrobe in which the Pevensies find Narnia. Even better, in the sixth and seventh book (if you are reading them in the original and good order), there is the Garden on the other side of the Stable doors. It is larger inside, and larger again inside that, and again inside an onion whose layers are paradoxically greater in circumference the deeper you peel.
Further up and further in!

Borges' aleph, which contains the entire universe. Fellow bookseller Jodie just came up with that one. There is a story I must read now.

I'm in the studio thinking about this as I look at the equivalent of the blank canvas. I'm collecting ideas on the topic of : larger within than without. The hidden enormity, hopefully good, that cloaks itself in the tiny shell of the everyday.
Let me know if you think of anything along these lines in books you've read.

1 comment:

Bookseller Bill said...

L-space in Terry Pratchett's Discworld. I can't remember exactly how he phrases it, but the basic idea is that large quantities of books warp space and time around them, so libraries (and bookstores) are potentially infinite in size.