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The disappearing invisible library

July 9th, 2009

My Icerocket self-search (admit it, we all do it), led me to this marvellous project. The Invisible Library is a collection of books that don’t exist, except in the pages of other books. It is physically manifesting at the Tenderpixel Library in London, but will resume invisibility after 12 July.

The connection?

The Library catalog includes Unburnt Boats by JG Quiggin, a book that is not only fictional but, for a long time imaginary, even in its own fictional universe, that of Anthony Powell’s Dance to the Music of Time

. As the narrator, Nick Jenkins observes of the author (part of this quote, which I’m reproducing from memory, graces the testimonial section of my sidebar)

I long believed Quiggin to be one of the hardest working men I knew. But I gradually came to realise that his work was to be talked about rather than done, and that his chief delight was drinking cups of coffee at odd hours

It is perhaps Quigginesque, that I am writing about a book about a non-existent book by a fictional namesake, when I should be writing the book I have just announced.

Via (Londonist, via As I please

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  1. Rob
    July 9th, 2009 at 09:07 | #1

    What about books that don’t exist, except in the minds of fragile conspiracists? We need a library where we can keep Whindschuttle’s stunning Volume 2 of The Fabrication of Australian History.

  2. Rob
    July 9th, 2009 at 09:07 | #2

    Windschuttle, sorry.

  3. Alice
    July 9th, 2009 at 09:39 | #3

    An invisible library for an invisible Windschuttle volume 2 Fabrication that is out there somewhere blowing in the wind?? It conjures up a scene from Harry Potter…

  4. July 9th, 2009 at 10:39 | #4

    Thanks for using!


  5. Donald Oats
    July 9th, 2009 at 12:34 | #5

    Brain…hurts…too…hofstadleresque…memory dump…ctrl-alt-del…rebooting…

  6. Alice
    July 9th, 2009 at 20:50 | #6


  7. Donald Oats
    July 9th, 2009 at 21:26 | #7

    Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter (1979) is packed full of riddles, paradoxes and metaphors posing as wisps of reality. His more recent tome is I am a Strange Loop (2007), is about what we mean when we say “I”.

    To each human being, this “I” is the realest thing in the world. But how can such a mysterious abstraction be real? Is our “I” merely a convenient fiction? Does an “I” exert genuine power over the particles in our brain, or is it helplessly pushed around by the all-powerful laws of physics?

    Talk of imaginary books (naturally?) evoked thoughts of an imaginary person reading said books. And then what of an imaginary book, the subject of which, is the life of the imaginary author of this book? An “imaginography”, perhaps? Then (or before then?) my brain took a holiday.

  8. Alice
    July 10th, 2009 at 08:29 | #8

    Thats funny Donald….perhaps we should also add imaginary newspapers to the imaginary library. We could start with todays page 3 articles (SMH) “female workers come into their own …and women are the surprise winners..latest job figures show 25,800 woen found jobs in the first 6 months of this year”
    Quick flick to page 7 Daily Tele “women hit hardest as work disappears”…jobs for women plunging 15,000 in one month…

    Imaginary news even….better open the library soon. We have enough imaginations to fill all the shelves.

  9. July 21st, 2009 at 00:27 | #9

    A definition of chrono-synclastic infundibulation from “A Child’s Cyclopedia of Wonders and Things to Do” by Doctor Cyril Hall was cited in Kurt Vonnegut’s “The Sirens of Titan”. The definition can also be found at http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/4953/kv_inf.html.

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