I can still remember my first thoughts I had about the whole exercise. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t really looking forward to it. It sounded kind of cheesy to me in the beginning.
Looking back I’d friendship say our developed quite a bit. The mixed feelings I had at the beginning of the first semester started to disappear with every task. The book „Recueil Historique de la Vie et des Ouvrages des Plus Célèbres Architects“ slowly became a friend of mine. And with every new task I got reminded of my new friend.
Our relationship began with me searching for the book. Where is it located? Is there still a copy of the first edition, which was published back in 1696? After a decent amount of research I knew already quite a bit about my knew friend. For the next task we should get in contact with it personally.
On a misty day my fellow students and I took the train to Einsiedeln to meet our new friends at the Oechslin library. At this point we were actually quite excited about getting in contact with the books. They’ve survived centuries and we can now count them to our friends.
The idea of traveling to Einsiedeln simply to look, observe, feel and touch a single book, which I am not even able to read, wasn’t comprehensible to me at first. But as soon as I was standing in front of it, I really started to enjoy it. I was fascinated by the book binding, the old leather, the way the color changed over the centuries and the typography. Not to mention the library itself, its impressive history and collection, which expands from the ground floor to the basement.
I felt insecure at first, I didn’t know how to behave in between all those precious old books inside the Oechslin library. Especially turning the pages turned out to be something tricky with these old fellas.
Our first encounter that day lasted for about 45 minutes. We had a good time and I took some pictures and a video of it as a memory. After analyzing the pictures I learned more about my book, how it is composed and what it focusses on. I was for example quite surprised to see very few illustrations but a lot of descriptive text instead.
With the last two tasks the whole friendship and relationship got really interesting. I’m fascinated by how much we can learn about the content of a book, without reading or understanding a word of it. Simply by grouping the books according to the words used in them, we created a range of small libraries of different topics. I could imagine how one could go even further and analyze the chapters of the different books and start grouping the words there again. With this scheme the conversations between the books would become more and more accurate to a specific topic.
One doesn’t have to read a book to be able to appreciate it.