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Too many books

"The words of the Hebrew sage have come true: 'Of making books there is no end.' What will happen if mechanics everywhere take up the pen? We're done for. Even cattle and stones will write. All the papyrus of the Nile will not suffice."
Petrarch, Invectives against a physician. Trans. David Marsh. The I Tatti Renaissance Library. (Cambridge/London: Harvard University Press, 2003): II.45.

Since we now live in an even more extreme age of bookish surfeit: when was the last time you read a book by cattle or stones?


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 3rd, 2008 12:21 pm (UTC)
To mis-quote Monkey Island
"How appropriate you write like a cow!"

How about Stone?

Or is silcon stoney enough?
Jul. 3rd, 2008 12:52 pm (UTC)
I was thinking of computer-generated books as contenders. Also, ghost-written autobiographies of rock stars perhaps.

The problem with Stone is that you're implying title = author, as far as I see.
Jul. 3rd, 2008 12:56 pm (UTC)
The titular stone is more than just a lump of rock, but even in the story, it doesn't write anything.

There must be a geography book somewhere that does the life of an igneous rock in the the first person.
Jul. 3rd, 2008 01:04 pm (UTC)
There are nineteenth-century books written for children which are autobiographies of rocks. I know someone who studies them (among other things). I'll be seeing her this weekend if you want details and they're not readily apparent via web searches (which I haven't done).
Jul. 3rd, 2008 12:50 pm (UTC)
As cattle or as stone?
Jul. 3rd, 2008 12:50 pm (UTC)
Jul. 3rd, 2008 07:21 pm (UTC)
Jul. 3rd, 2008 12:54 pm (UTC)
I was just reminded of oursin's post from yesterday. Books written by focus groups ought to count as cattle, I think.
Jul. 3rd, 2008 12:58 pm (UTC)
"Find tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones..."

I don't believe I've read any. What was meant by 'mechanics', in context?
Jul. 3rd, 2008 01:03 pm (UTC)
A mechanic, in this case, is someone who practices a mechanical art, or a craftsmen. Think Shakespeare's "Rude Mechanicals". The whole thing is a diatribe about the ineptness and stupidity of one particular doctor as an opportunity for Petrarch to defend poetry and show off how smart and erudite he is. Along the way, he observes (at great length) that medicine was classed as a mechanical art (by that subset of scholars who sat around classifying arts - I study them), and thus doctors are just tradesmen, in it for the money, and catering to the base body rather than the sublime soul.
Jul. 3rd, 2008 05:31 pm (UTC)
"Be a physician, Faustus, heap up gold..."
Jul. 3rd, 2008 01:51 pm (UTC)
Do you think I can bribe a stone to finish my dissertation? What would I have to offer it? Water? Shade?
Jul. 3rd, 2008 05:55 pm (UTC)
You just need paper - paper covers stone.
Jul. 3rd, 2008 02:21 pm (UTC)
I haven't read a book by cattle, but I have read one supposedly written by sheep. :)

Three Bags Full

I loved it!
Jul. 3rd, 2008 07:25 pm (UTC)
That looks FANTASTIC.
Jul. 3rd, 2008 07:58 pm (UTC)
I can highly recommend it. It's wonderfully funny at times, but there is a darker undercurrent and moments of great poignancy.

I felt the author managed the sheepy personalities absolutely beautifully. It's definitely gone on my re-read list.
Jul. 3rd, 2008 03:40 pm (UTC)
I seem to recall this news story some years ago about a barn-stormer pilot who swore he flew over a muddy field that had a herd of cattle acting kinda crazy, and their wandering, stumbling hoof tracks spelled out the first thirty lines from Tolstoy's War and Peace. Subsequent investigation revealed the poor cattle had been eating jimson weed and were stoned out of their minds. Or was it the pilot had some weed and was stoned?

Anyway, there's a partial book in there, some cattle and lots of stones. :)

(The above is a pure work of fiction and has no resemblence to anything ever reported in any newspaper outside of Stoners Gulch, Arkansaw)
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )