This week’s Magpie Tale
“There is an afterlife, but only in the Library, ” Alexandria’s mother always told her.
Many thought her name came from the city in Virginia, but her mother clarified that her daughter’s name honored that great repository of knowledge in the Ptolemaic Empire.
Alexandria, home of all those dead authors whose thoughts and dreams have an afterlife every time a visitor opens the little papyrus tomb and unleashes centuries’ old learning.
Kafka never visited the western hemisphere except in his imaginings in Amerika, with its enormous sports stadium in Oklahoma. The lives of Plato and Benjamin Britten artfully preserved and flourishing, like a butterfly in a shadow box in the stacks of volumes waiting to be discovered.
A little known chronicler of 16th century Scottish landscape architecture, Verlin Macdonald, is read rarely more often than every other decade but is still there, waiting to be released.
Just as ancient clerics feared how the printing press would democratize the reading of the Bible, now the printed page itself threatens to go through its chrysalis. And on the third Millennium it may choose to rise from the dead and return to Alexandria, where the latest embodiment of library resembles an enormous coin, half submerged in the earth and the other half leaning upwards towards the heavens of dead authors.