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By Aileen, Section review-a-rama
Posted on Tue Oct 7th, 2003 at 08:18:19 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
As part of the lecture series "Artvertising" at the O.K Center in Linz, yesterday evening Ecke Bonk talked about his work Book of Words. Random Reading that was shown at Documenta11. What was most amazing was the portrait he painted of Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, who had been librarians together at Museum Fridericianum in Kassel, where the work was shown. Ecke Bonk mentioned that it was suggested to him that instead of a "random reading" of the Deutsches Wörterbuch, it should be interactive, allowing people to type in a word, for which the entry in the Grimm brothers' dictionary would then be displayed.


[ --------------------------------------------- ]

Ecke Bonk said he decided against that, because he thought it would end up being too limited - people would enter the same words, only a small selection of words. Considering that this monumental collection of words was initially the work of two people (or in some ways of one person and his brother: Jakob worked on the letters A, B, C, E, F, - dying at the age of 78 working on the entry for "Frucht" - while Wilhelm did D), this struck me as a surprising statement.
Watching the words smoothly scrolling past on a screen behind Bonk as he spoke, though, seeing the entries from the dictionary that intermittently appeared on the screen in between, I have no doubt that he is right. Of course many of the words are obscure or obsolete now or only used in certain dialects, but this incredible abundance of words, only hinted at in the small segment on the screen, is overwhelming.

And this overwhelming abundance of words, this intense compression of ideas, originated with one scholar's passionate dedication and his brother's cooperation (and thinking of pairs of brothers that I know, I even find it hard to imagine how they were able to work together so closely for so many years). Bonk described the original manuscript pages prepared by Jakob Grimm as being unimaginably meticulous - everything written out clearly, in cursive or printed as needed to make the content clear, references in Latin, Greek, Hebrew neatly lettered, nothing crossed out or amended later. Wilhelm's pages appeared more human in comparison, with corrections, changes, notes tacked on to the side of the page. Considering the influence that Jakob Grimm's scholarly obsession with words still has today, I find myself wondering what long-term impact all the collaborative, distributed, interdisciplinary work going on all around me might have. How obsessive do you have to be to achieve something? Or do you just need to have a brother?

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Brother Librarians | 1 comments
[new] Give and take (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#1)
by amy on Wed Oct 8th, 2003 at 09:29:25 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME
(User Info)

A few weeks ago, Jules Engel passed away, at the age of 94. For those of us who knew him, this is of course a very sad occasion. But, it gives us a chance to reflect on what a character he was, and his special talent, for, among other things, coming up with good quotes. He had some good ones about teaching, for example. My personal favorite Jules-on-teaching quote was, "When people ask me how I train animators, I say 'You don't train animators. You train dogs.'"... However, a slightly less blunt one was chosen for the press release used in the above article, and I think that one's somehow relevant here. (Yes, I realize I'm commenting on Aileen's post about collaboration and not Trebor's post about new media art education.)

Anyway, Jules apparently once said, "It is not what I give to a student that is most important, it is what I don't take away." ... Which makes me think there's something that obliquely relates to collaboration as well: A collaboration can give a lot - to each person and to the project - but it can also take things away. A whole can be greater than the sum of its parts - but it can also diminish each part.

Having worked solo for a long time and then found myself in various collaborations with various people, that it's something everyone needs to be cognizant of. I find the best situation for me is to balance working-alone situations with collaborative ones... and that the collaborative ones need to work in ways that feel mutually "additive" in the right ways.

My 2 cents + 2 cents + .....

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-- Discordia is nice.
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Brother Librarians | 1 comments

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