Friday, August 08, 2008

A Parable For Librarians

Efficiency Without Function. The goal of the archive is to preserve an object for future use without prejudging its usefulness. You must simultaneously collect and preserve while maximizing the potential future usefulness of the object with the knowledge that it may not actually circulate at all.

The same is true for art: literature is simultaneously the least functional of all writing and the most efficient, where every word, page, thought, letter, mark, and space has to be selected and treated with the utmost care yet without the certain knowledge that it will be seen or penetrated by a single reader.

This formula -- purposiveness without purpose -- is what Kant calls the beautiful.

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