FYI France

File 3: Ejournal and archive

by Jack Kessler,

November 15, 2014 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on November 15, 2014.

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Versions of the following have appeared online regularly, since 1992, as a feature of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which is distributed for free via email every month except August. Ejournal subscriptions may be obtained via email request to:

Here this file is one of a number made available -- hopefully attractively, all in one place, and relevant to libraries and online digital information work in France and Europe. Please email suggestions for improvements to me at




Xmas in Paris : Internet, & a remarkable Rare Books BnF-exhibit.


F red Turner, The WELL, & the Origins of the Internet -- Paris, December 16 & 18 -- Fred Turner, author of the book, Aux sources de l'Utopie numérique, will be in Paris in mid-December, at the initiative of Olivier Alexandre (EHESS - École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales) and Larisa Dryansky (INHA - Institut national d'histoire de l'art), with the support of the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Two public conferences will enable discussions with Fred Turner about his work:

The Deep Web still is several, perhaps many, times larger than the Internet... and growing... Think of all those new users in Myanmar, now, each now equipped with their own latest-model mobile, providing each of them access to untold amounts of storage, and increasingly functionality, out somewhere on The Cloud -- and each certain that their digital data is just as significant as anyone else's -- all those texts & fotos & soundfiles & movies -- Moore's Law rapidly becoming Moore's Flood...

We'll never have enough Dark Fiber & bandwidth & Cloud capacity & WiFi standards upgrades to contain it all -- or to find anything within it -- altho certainly Apple & Samsung will sell even more mobiles... growth industries... and now comes the Internet of Things / IoT, and all that additional data... We greatly need, all of us everywhere on the planet, to understand this thing we have created and understand it well: its origins, its original intentions, its new dangers and possibilities...


-- and for more information please contact,

Hervé Le Crosnier,


And --


* "In Praise of Rarity: 100 treasures of the Rare Book Reserve / Éloge de la rareté : cent trésors de la Réserve des livres rares"

-- from November 25 2014 to January 31 2015, at the BnF François-Mitterrand, Galerie 2 -- [the following from the program online] --

> "During the past two decades, over 11,000 works were added to the BnF's Rare Book Reserve. The exhibition presents about a hundred books selected among the most outstanding ones. This is an opportunity to discover a department that has been taking care of the library's most precious printed books for over two centuries.

> "The exhibition also discloses the many meanings of the notion of rarity, especially when the printed objects presented are not unique pieces. Incunabula, contemporary artists' books such as Picasso's Buffon enriched by original drawings, outstanding decorated bindings, simple historical leaflets, children's books, layouts, corrected proofs of works such as Baudelaire's Fleurs du Mal, scandalous books, original editions... These works are just a few examples of this praise to rarity."

> Tuesday - Saturday from 10:00am to 7:00pm ; Sunday from 1:00pm to 7:00pm ; closed Mondays & public holidays ; Full price: 9 € ; Reduced price: 7 € ; FNAC Reservation: 0892 684 694 (0,34 €/mn all taxes included) & at


See also, re. the above exhibit, and very interestingly: the latest issue of the excellent magazine of the Amis de la BnF, "Chroniques", ISSN 1283-8683, #71, Sep-Déc 2014 --

-- then click on "Numéro 71 de Chroniques", then on the lower-right corner to go to page 9 -- & as you go be sure to listen to the pages "turn"... :-) -- [the following excerpts tr. JK] --

> On Rarity / De la rareté

> This selection of acquisitions, among those made over the course of the past two decades, is a warm invitation to reflect upon the diverse meanings of the idea of a rare book...

> What is a rare book?

> By taking up the spirit of the previous exhibition, "Rare books since the invention of the printing press / Des livres rares depuis l'invention de l'imprimerie", organized by the BnF from April to July 1998, the current exhibit is intended to clarify the richness of meanings which the notion of rarity is able to evoke, when it is applied to printing press objects normally produced in quantities:

> -- books which have become extremely rare due to their age, such as the first French edition of l'Histoire de Mélusine by Jean d'Arras, published at Lyon around 1479;

> -- corrected proofs of essential works, such as Les Fleurs du Mal of Baudelaire, or Un Coup de dés jamais n'abolira le hasard of Mallarmé...

> -- models documenting the birth of an edition, so that of the Rêve d'une petite fille qui boulut entrer au Carmel of Max Ernst...

> -- historical documents like the poster of the German armies of occupation announcing the execution of the lieutenant de vaisseau Honoré d'Estienne d'Orves and two other Résistants on August 29 1941;

> -- also the great books of major artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, such as the copy of the Eaux-fortes originales pour des textes de Buffon of Picasso, enriched by the artist with over forty original designs he made for Dora Maar;

> -- these are some of the aspects and arguments of this elegy.

> The diversity thus-revealed, among these objects, supports the idea that rarity is not a sacrament only of books and apart from the rest, but that it is first of all a look at our patrimony with a wish to see it all more clearly, a means of privileged access to the spirit of our works and our books, and a manner of recognizing the proper role which they play in our history.

> Jean-Marc Chatelain


> And be sure to see several very good online images of a sampling of this very interesting exhibition -- [link on the above-mentioned page via "Voir La Galerie", & if the elegant Flash freezes just link back to the previous page "<"]




And now a Note:

We see, "as through a glass, darkly..."

Things seen too-often & up-close lose their context, meaning, significance -- we become immersed in daily detail and forget why they, and we, are there. Aristotle the biologist taught us that to understand, and the better to remember, we should categorize and label, put concepts into boxes in our minds and "name" them. Science as mnemonic devices...

And with all its limitations his "science" still seems the best technique: not for changing things -- too often we miss too much, in our analyses and generalizations -- and Reality doesn't care, it just saunters on unchanged -- but for understanding, and at least for better communicating among ourselves. So we stumble on, sometimes successful, often blindly, at least sharing, & doing our best.

But it is hardest to do this with too much detail... So backing-off & viewing from afar, and categorizing & classifying, help us to "filter" all the "data". Our millennium is doing much of both: we seem to have more "data" now than we've ever had before, and better access to it, and our filters are far better. What we lack, however, to make our "scientific" model work, perhaps is distance.

I've never seen, or understood, the US better than when I've looked at it from afar -- from France, from De Gaulle's 1967 just before It All Changed there, or from Franco's Spain -- thus-viewed, from afar, the US traumas of 1968 made better sense to me, back then.

France, as well, seems more understandable viewed from Texas, or California, or even Mannahatta, than it does from Paris or Lyon, now:

-- imagine trying to grasp the essentials of US-politics -- "Pennsylvania is Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with Alabaama in-between!" -- from a party on the Upper East Side... Manhattan is too close, as Tocqueville taught us...

-- or imagine truly understanding "France" from a cocktail on the rue de l'université -- "Paris et le désert français" -- Paris is a Global City recently become-enormous & self-centered & now "understanding" more about Manhattan & Tokyo & Shanghai, & Singapore, Yangon, Chennai, than anything nearby, and as-always Paris is the brilliant & educated & energetic children, while that neglected nearby "desert" is France, and the parents, & the all-important ancestors...

So Beckett and Joyce went to Paris, to better-understand Dublin, and James Baldwin went there to better-understand his USA, and Lafayette and Tocqueville and lately Bernard-Henri Levy / BHL all made The-Trek-Across-America not so much to study foreigners but the better to understand their own France.

And in Paris, this Xmas, there are French views on the Internet, encountering & perhaps confronting some very-American attitudes which invented it... some similarities, there, but important differences too...

It's not a perfect process, our categorizing & classifying, and viewing things up-close & from-afar, and discussing -- and despite all our discussions sometimes stuff just happens... often... Fukushima dai ichi... We see things, "as through a glass, darkly", definitely the future but also the present and most definitely the past... some of us even re-write the past to suit their present purposes, now...

But in all this perhaps it's the discussions that are most important: whether those represent true "understanding", or actionable-knowledge, or anything resembling "results", the mere fact that they are held at all -- that Obama and Putin pass one another in a corridor and at least mutter their studiously frowned & frosty "hello" -- and that the so-American Internet's intellectual property & privacy & censorship differences get discussed in far-away & "Think-Different" Paris -- is our greatest hope... as long as we are communicating... It is only when the talking stops that things get really bad.


Jack Kessler,



FYI France (sm)(tm) e-journal ISSN 1071-5916
      |         FYI France (sm)(tm) is a monthly electronic
      |         journal published since 1992 as a small-scale,
      |         personal experiment, in the creation of large-
      |         scale "information overload", by Jack Kessler.
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