New York City

Such fun has been had!

Of course, I am talking about “fun” in the sense of navigating the recesses of a research library to uncover forbidden texts of arcane lore, the sort of wild exuberance that causes the Ex-Henchman to say, “How’s that fun?” Nonetheless, the NYPL Humanities Library has all sorts of books on magic stuck away in odd corners here and there that repay the dedicated searcher.

An example: In my last afternoon there, I ran across a German omnibus grimoire edition. In the late 19th century, some publishers (mainly Johann Scheible of Stuttgart) would take dozens of short books on magic and stick them together in a single volume. I’ve alluded to one such book – the Sammlung der Grossten Geheimnisse – in my podcast. This one was a mess – printed on cheap, crumbling paper, some previous owner had cut out many of the sections from the binding and chopped into the other pages. Someone – perhaps the same person, perhaps not – inserted a stamp with Saint Anthony on it on one page, and one reader from 1946 had kept careful track of his progress through it by writing dates and page numbers on the flyleaf. It’s simply in wretched shape. It also is likely the only copy in a library in this hemisphere.

I’m tempted to do a writeup on surviving the NYPL Humanities library, because there are wild beasts lurking in the underbrush, but I won’t do it unless someone really wants it.

I did take one day off and go to The Cloisters, a small museum specializing in medieval art that I’d wanted to visit for years. It’s quite a break from the bustle of the city, and I highly encourage you to check it out if that’s your sort of thing.

Book purchases (mostly from The Cloisters):

Secrets of Los Angeles – Movie stars and squirrelipedes. Yes, that’s what I said.

Alchemy & Mysticism – A gift for a friend who prefers metaphysical pictures to text.

The Green Man: The Pitkin Guide – The many faces of this curious chap from medieval art.

The Cloisters – Apparently this guide to the collection sells for the same amount in hardback on Amazon as I paid for the paperback at the gift shop. Oh well.

St. Benedict’s Rule for Monasteries – Because I need a new book to carry around with me in my pocket. St. Benedict set the standard for monasteries across Europe, so being familiar with his work tells you a great deal about how monasteries were run. I’m looking forward to finding out the proper qualifications for the cellarer…

That’s all for now. Take care!

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Published in: on May 11, 2008 at 7:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

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