The centerpiece of the 2013 Venice Biennale is a scale model of The Encyclopedic Palace, which, according to the Biennale’s website, was “a utopian dream by Marino Auriti [an Italian-American auto-body mechanic and self-taught artist and architect] who filed a design with the U.S. Patent office in 1955.” Auriti’s palace was “an imaginary museum that was meant to house all worldly knowledge.”
But nowadays all of the world’s knowledge, or at least enough to fill an encyclopedia, can fit onto a flash drive. Weekend Words feels the pinch as the world shrinks further.
“O might Caesar! dost thou lie so low?
Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils,
Shrunk to this little measure?”
—Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
“All television ever did was shrink the demand for ordinary movies. The demand for extraordinary movies increased. If any one thing is wrong with the movie industry today, it is the unrelenting effort to astonish.”
—Clive James, writing in the London Observer, 1979
“Men shrink less from offending one who inspires love than one who inspires fear.”
“Realism, whether it be socialist or not, falls short of reality. It shrinks it, attenuates it, falsifies it; it does not take into account our basic truths and our fundamental obsessions: love, death, astonishment. It presents man in a reduced and estranged perspective. Truth is in our dreams, in the imagination.”
“I desire to end my days in a tavern drinking,
May some Christian hold for me the glass when I’m shrinking;
That the Cherubim may cry, when they see me sinking,
‘God be merciful to a soul of this gentleman’s way of thinking.’”
—Anonymous Latin poem, translated by Leigh Hunt
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