November 16, 2006

Rotation to the Max

Filed under: reading — ted @ 5:11 pm

Via The Proceedings of the Athanasius Kircher Society, this sixteenth-century rotary reading desk:

In Either/Or, Kierkegaard discusses the problem of boredom, and offers rotation as a means of allieving it:

Idleness, we are accustomed to say, is the root of all evil. To prevent this evil, work is recommended…. Idleness as such is by no means a root of evil; on the contrary, it is truly a divine life, if one is not bored…. My deviation from popular opinion is adequately expressed by the phrase “rotation of crops.” The method I propose does not consist in changing the soil but, like proper crop rotation, consists in changing the method of cultivation and the kinds of crops. Here at once is the principle of limitation, the sole saving principle in the world. The more a person limits himself, the more resourceful he becomes

I’ve always compared this to the intellectual desire many of us have, especially in a web-based world, to continually want new things to read and digest. The analogy to crop rotation is a fair one: instead of changing yourself to alleivaite boredom, you rotate the information you take into yourself and the experiences you seek out. The rotary desk, while hardly similar in degree, seems to be a Rennassaince example of the same phenomenon.

I dove deep a little too quickly there, from a wood-carving — but the comparison of the rotating desk to the concept of rotation was too easy to pass…


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