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The Mundane Egg

Loui Kuhlau

06.06.2015 - 20.06.2015


In language you divide, categorize and combine. As words enters your language they create parameters in a spectrum, in which you previously didn't make any distinctions. As you come into being without a language, the first period of life is lived in a continuous spectrum. A world where everything is one. Your senses collect information as if nothing is separate. At this stage the oceanic feeling is all you know, everything is something you associate with.

At first, most of us were gatherers, then we started to collect and eventually we became hoarders. As gatherers we learnt only what was needed. That which wasn't essential for our survival, wasn't kept for long, but as we began naming things, we started to collect. The collection grew into interest, which gave us meaning and encouraged us to continue. Eventually our interest transcended our most pressing needs of survival.The collection became collections and the interest became a constant naming of what we found. With the interest of naming rapidly increasing, we began to name things which didn't exist. The first non-existing thing we gave a name was 'nothing', continuing with a name for when we name a thing, 'naming'. We kept on inventing names for all the things we couldn't grasp, as if naming, would make them more real and therefore easier to understand. An Idea of how to make them part of our world was formed. They were given letters, which together would form their names. Letters we could make present in the world, through writing. This writing could be done anywhere, on anything. Even the things which were already present could be inscribed by their names. We made the naming physical. It was no longer a collection in our mind but something we could touch. New ways of storing were invented. Stone, clay, wood, wax and the skin of others, but none of them would prove to be as efficient as paper. From the point where we began writing all the names we knew on paper, the collection expanded exponentially and soon demanded us to settle down. We became hoarders, stacking the names in piles. Not knowing what to do with them, we started to combine, putting one name after another. Acquiring more paper the stacks grew higher and to keep them from falling over, we bound each paper to another. We called them books, deriving from an early name for tree 'bōc'.

In our strive to collect all names, many attempts were made to create a complete collection. Looking at the names constructed for these books, one finds a poetic set of titles; Speculum majus "The Greater Mirror", L'Image du monde "The Image of the World". Others less pompous but grandiose in their own way; Fons memorabilium universi "The Source of Noteworthy Facts of the Universe", De natura rerum "On the Nature of Things", Hortus deliciarum "Garden of Delights", Theatrum Vitae Humanae "the theater of human life". All titles trying to frame an idea of a collection, worthy of calling itself complete or at the very least a collection of the most essential of everything. Most of these books became not one, but many. We chose to call them 'volumes' as the content was not the most significant, but the quantity they held. One of the largest collection, I have ever found is tilted by an even larger name;

"Great Complete Encyclopaedia of All Sciences and Arts Which So Far Have Been Invented and Improved by Human Mind and Wit: Including the Geographical and Political Description of the Whole World According to All Monarchies, Empires, Kingdoms, Principalities, Republics, Free Sovereignties, Countries, Towns, Sea Harbors, Fortresses, Castles, Areas, Authorities, Monasteries, Mountains, Passes, Woods, Seas, Lakes ... and also a Detailed Historical and Genealogical Description of the World's Brightest and Most Famous Family Lines, the Life and Deeds of the Emperors, Kings, Electors and Princes, Great Heroes, Ministers of State, War Leaders... ; Equally about All Policies of State, War and Law and Budgetary Business of the Nobility and the Bourgeois, Merchants, Traders, Arts."

A book that later came to publish as; Grosses vollständiges Universal-Lexicon. The 'encyclopaedia' (deriving from an other set of names 'ἐγκύκλιος' meaning circular and 'παιδεία' meaning education or rearing of a child) was a name created to describe what these books had set out to do. A complete knowledge which circumference, holds everything or an education which has the form of a circle. In early encyclopaedias there was no index, some even without recognizable divisions between the names and most without any structure or order. One could argue that these were closer to the world they were trying to mirror, where one thing dissolved into another. As the collections recided in our mind there was usually no difficulties finding a name, but the collections had become physical and grown to such an extent that they were no longer graspable, finding a name could take weeks. The immense work of categorizing had become a pressing matter. Searching for categories, we had to go back to the origin. All things that didn't exists had been given letters, which now had spread to the existing things. It had become the smallest common denominator of names. The letter in which one begins to say their name, were made into categories. Beginning with A and ending with Z. this of course changed according to the set of names one chose to use. We called ours 'Alphabet', a name built on the first two letters of another set 'άλφα' alpha, 'βήτα' beta.

As the structure had come into place, many of us were idle, looking for other things to do.

Connections were made and the previous randomness of one name after another turned into descriptions, where names described other names, filling each one with meaning. The purpose of these descriptions soon became clear, as the idea of what each name meant, stirred heavy debates. One could find an equal set of interpretations to people working with descriptions. A new collection was built. Its name was 'Dictionary', built on the set of names 'dictio' speaking and 'arium' 'room', it became the room in which the general idea of a name was spoken, where we agreed on a common ground. As we were busy establishing what each name meant, there were others constantly interrupting the work, altering the meaning of each name, using them in every possible manner. They were called poets, deriving from the name 'ποιητής' meaning creator, maker or doer. The poets inspired many of us descriptors, making it possible to expand the descriptions. No longer bound to describe a specific name, we began mirroring our world in an immediate way, describing what we perceived. The names were, flying, swimming, rooted to the earth, they were placed in an order, where they could act on each other. We called it 'Sentence', a name deriving from 'sentiō' meaning to feel or perceive. We became enchanted by this new existence and reading allowed us to wander. Absorbed by the stroll, attempts were made to enter the descriptions. We mirrored ourselves.

Over time most of us came to live in this world. seldom seeing what's in front of us. The names had taken their place. Where we once saw wonder or spectrum, now was a chair, a stairway, a person or a car. Attributes were given to them, blue, white, big, slow, dead, happy. All names structuring our knowledge, names which we have forgotten the origin of.

In an encyclopaedia there is a limitation of space, with this comes the idea that nothing important should be left out and nothing trivial can be included. With the notion of an all knowing collection, which has failed to include all, one begins to wonder, which names were left out.

The walking sea
As we once came from the sea, we brought the sea with us. Every time we shape a new self into existence a sea fills our inside. The other takes a breath, lungs are flooded and water passes through the inside. We all starts as fish, swimming, breathing water. Until one day, when the water is pushed out of our lungs and we take our first breath of air. Helplessly incapable of managing the gravitational weight of the new world, we learn to crawl. The crawling leads to walking and we start to talk. A story that took billions of years to tell, is now told and retold in the course of a lifetime.

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