This medieval manuscript archivist is working his dream job and it shows

Originally published at:


For more than forty years I absolutely loved my career – truly, it was a hoot. And then I didn’t. Been there, done that.

Now I’m back to University doing the other things [1] that I set aside for making cool stuff. And I find myself surrounded by people, some of them quite a bit older than me, who will have to be shot to make them stop what they’re doing. Because it really, truly, totally rocks.

This summer I may be helping out getting the (for now, anyway) world’s highest-resolution interferometric optical telescope up and running. Can’t wait.

[1] Math and physics, if you must


Lovely. And here I am freaking out as he handles the pages with bare hands.

Edited: No sarcasm meant. Truly lovely.


All history is ‘Dodgy Dossier’.” I love it!

That was a delight to watch. If anyone deserves to handle thise books without cotton gloves it’s him.


Quite a marvelous man, i would love to have a conversation with him and pick his brain. He seems really dedicated to his work


Bah! Impudent fools!


ETA: The character Jorge de Burgos (played by Feodor Chaliaplin Jr.), in the film version of Umberto Eco’s novel, The Name of the Rose, and all-around opponent of the Reading is Fundamental program. Also - suspected arsonist and murderer.


I think if they ever brought in the machines for scanning-by-shredding from Vernor Vinge’s Rainbows End, they’d have to do him first.


I also love my job. And it often involves archives! But more of the digital sort.

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I was fortunate enough to be on a short residential course at Corpus Christi College a short while ago. I nearly didn’t go on the free tour of the Parker library, conducted by this gentleman himself, because I wanted to focus on my own work and I had no idea of what was in the library - luckily I took advice at the last moment and went. It is quite a remarkable place. He didn’t show us the St Augustine Gospels, but we did see the elephant picture and some other cool manuscripts and fragments, as well as early printed books. And he definitely seems to enjoy his work!


What is the song in the background?
“… I love good books…” etc.

Me, too! 

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maybe the stasi shredders were too precise for shotgun assembly

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@CoffeeStar I believe that background song is Frank Sinatra singing “How About You.”

Philip Whalen on Lloyd Reynolds, the teacher of Whalen, Gary Snyder, and Lew Welch at Reed College: “Although he had these subjects and could teach them, and could organize the material and put it across very well, what he was really good at was teaching enthusiasm. He taught people to be interested and excited about he subject the was trying to lay on them.”

from Crowded by Beauty: The Life and Zen of Poet Philip Whalen by David Schneider
Oakland, CA: Univ of CA Press, 2015
ISBN 978-0-520-24746-8

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I’m feeling really dumb for not recognizing this, but I’m drawing a blank. Where’s this from?

Edit in my post. Wasn’t sure if this would ring a bell, but he did burn a few books. :smiling_imp:

When you said

burn a few books

it immediately came to me! Thanks for the hint. Even with a little help, it’s more satisfying to get the answer yourself than have someone just hand it out.

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If the stasi shredders were precise, wouldn’t that make it easy to reconstruct? :confused:

In the book. the shredda passed down a tube lined with cameras to enable digital reassembly, which still sounds crazy.

It’s been a while. I think Vinge was riffing off of shotgun sequencing of genomes.

As a booksperson myself, Jorge is one of the most terrifying villains I can think of.

(Also, the depiction in the film was quite good. But Qualtinger truly was amazing.)