Go to the library

[W]ith reading and writing, language becomes billions of times more powerful. We can learn from people who live on the other side of the city, or the country, or the world. We can learn from people who are dead, and we can teach people who have not yet been born […] of all human inventions, it’s the printed world that multiplies our powers the most*
(Steven Pinker)

In all fictional works, each time a man is confronted with several alternatives he chooses one and eliminates the others; in fiction of the almost inextricable Ts’ui Pên, he chooses simultaneously all of them.. He creates in this way, diverse futures, diverse times which themselves also proliferate and fork.**
(Jorge Luis Borges)

In 1530, Florence was besieged by the combined forces of Charles V and Pope Clement VII. Michelangelo Buonarroti was put in charge of defending the city and part of his preparations involved laying mattresses over the defensive walls to minimise the damage from enemy cannon fire. Mattresses and warfare became connected, popularly re-emerging in The Godfather in the phrase “Go to the mattresses,” meaning prepare for battle.

“Go to the library” is what we do when we want to move into the future with more options. The library with all its shelves – fiction, factual, children’s, adult’s, ancient, modern, text, audio, visual, person … – provides us with the many forking paths we need.

To see your futures, go to the library.

(*From Steven Pinker’s letter to young readers, in Maria Popova and Claudia Bedrick’s A Velocity of Being.)
(**From Jorge Luis Borges’ The Garden of Forking Paths.)

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