One finds here, very rarely in the low lying areas, more frequently as one goes farther up, a clear and extremely hard stone that is spherical and varies in size—a kind of crystal, but a curved crystal, something extraordinary and unknown on the rest of the planet. Among the French of Port-des-Singes, it is called peradam. Ivan Lapse remains puzzled by the formation and root meaning of this word. It may mean, according to him, “harder than diamond,” and it is; or “father of the diamond,” and they say that the diamond is in fact the product of the degeneration of the peradam by a sort of quartering of the circle or, more precisely, cubing of the sphere. Or again, the word may mean “Adam’s stone,” having some secret and profound connection to the original nature of man. The clarity of this stone is so great and its index of refraction so close to that of air that, despite the crystal’s great density, the unaccustomed eye hardly perceives it. But to anyone who seeks it with sincere desire and true need, it reveals itself by its sudden sparkle, like that of dewdrops.
–René Daumal (Mount Analogue: A Tale of Non-Euclidian and Symbolically Authentic Mountaineering Adventures)
Such is the fundamental principle of the Aztec alphabet, each letter being in the image of a grotto, which ends up by being over-populated, for the original bust is never alone, but is accompanied by its double and by its nearest neighbour (the trinity of man: the body, the mind and the heart), also in the form of busts so that each grotto adjoins the adjacent grottoes (like a large town and its suburbs), which makes the writing dreadfully complicated, each satellite bust being, in its turn, specified by a secondary cavern of which it is the central personage, and where, in its turn, it evolves in the company of its own double and its nearest neighbour and in relation to the permanent elements which form the framework of nature, and so, step by step and image by image, to infinity, the microcosm reflected in the macrocosm and, in a counter-movement, the macrocosm in the microcosm, and so on until one reaches the idea of God, which is why each letter in this alphabet is called ‘a holy city,’ and the whole book, The Sacred Book of the Holy Cities of the Lagoon, referred to in the jargon of the Americanist scholars as: The Codex Yucatan. …one of the most ancient systems of writing in the world, and when you unroll this papyrus, you have before your eyes the mirror of the universe. Trying to decipher it is like hypnotizing yourself, and to read it is to eat it. ‘Eating the book’ is the highest ritual of White Magic.
–Blaise Cendrars (The Astonished Man)
WHITE MOUNTAIN is a constellation. Of the quick and the dead, the curious, the lovers. It is a temporary autonomous zone, a manifestation of an invisible college where college may be imagined to derive from the Latin legere, to gather, hence to collect, to assemble, and too, by some leaps and bounds to include gathering letters and words, in other words, to read, especially to read together. It is an improvisatory, nebulous, essentially epistolary network generating and exchanging ideas both concrete and esoteric. The Eternal Network is not unrelated. “An Invisible Insurrection of a Million Minds” is not unrelated and also sounds nice. A tree, a root, a branch, leaf, and cone. Also, something handed to one and/or one being pointed to something.
WHITE MOUNTAIN welcomes the integration of multiple ways of knowing and multiple forms of knowledge. Wayfinding methodologies include the bibliography, the conversation, internet dig and drift, but above all a form of bookshelf divination, not bibliomancy but divination in the sense of water divining, of finding what is there that needs to be found now.
A book is a vessel, a conduit, an invitation. It may be too obvious to say that a book may be conceived of as a technology for connecting humans across vast gaps of space and time.
Bernadette Mayer once wrote of Clark Coolidge’s body of work that, “In a world where people are perforce cut off from the mystical cosmic and sublime aesthetic everythings,” his works, “provide for us the beauty of some of the interstitial stuff that might weave a perception to change the world back together.”
There is a speculative map of an invisible mountain that looks like this:
Bey, Hakim. T.A.Z. The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism. Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 1985. http://hermetic.com/bey/taz_cont.html
Bok, Christian. Crystallography. Toronto: Coach House Books, 2011.
Borges, Jorge Luis. Labyrinths, Selected Stories & Other Writings. New York: New Directions, 1964. Specifically “The Garden of the Forking Paths” and “The Library of Babel.”
Breath Made Visible: Anna Halprin. Dir., Reudi Gerber. ZAS Film, 2009.
Bruno, Giordano. On the Composition of Images, Signs, and Ideas. Ed., Dick Higgins. Trans., Charles Doria. New York: Willis Locker & Owens, 1991.
Coolidge, Clark. The Crystal Text. Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 2000.
Daumal, René. Mount Analogue: A Tale of Non-Euclidian and Symbolically Authentic Mountaineering Adventures. Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 2004.
Finlay, Ian Hamilton. Talismans and Signifiers. Edinburgh, United Kingdom : Graeme Murray Gallery, 1984.
Lippard, Lucy R. Overlay, Contemporary Art and the History of Prehistory. New York: Pantheon Books, 1983.
Serres, Michel. The Five Senses, A Philosophy of Mingled Bodies. New York: Continuum, 2009.
Shaw, George Russell. Practical and Ornamental Knots. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1933.
Thurber, James. Many Moons. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1943.
Weiner, Hannah. “Trans Space Communication” from Hannah Weiner’s Open House. Ed., Patrick F. Durgan. Kenning Editions, 2007.
About the Resource Room Residencies
PICA’s Resource Room Residency (RRR) program was initiated in 2012 in order to provide time, space, and resources for artists whose practices live at the intersection of research and art. The program encourages a consideration of libraries, archives, collections, and collecting, but can find outlets in many forms and disciplines. RRRs are provided with a modest stipend and unlimited access to our archive of books, media, and ephemera for three month engagements. They intersect with PICA’s members and the community at large through salon discussions, screenings, public performances, and printed materials. The 2012 RRRs are Alex Felton, Claudia Meza, and Lisa Radon.