John Twelve Hawks – The Fourth Realm Trilogy

Twelve Hawks , John (2005). The Traveller. London: Corgi Books. 2006. ISBN 9781407071886. Pagine 498. 12,86 $

Twelve Hawks , John (2007). The Dark River. London: Corgi Books. 2008. ISBN 9781407038032. Pagine 515. 11,55 $

Twelve Hawks , John (2009). The Golden City. London: Transworld. 2010. ISBN 9781407056746. Pagine 370. 17,69 $

The Fourth Realm Trilogy

Un’altra recensione tardiva. Sono 3 libri che ho letto nell’estate del 2010, dopo essermi imbattuto nel primo della serie perché incuriosito da una citazione di Albert-László Barabási nel suo Bursts: The Hidden Pattern Behind Everything We Do (un altro libro letto e non recensito).

L’intera saga – che naturalmente t’acchiappa, ma non vale realmente la pena di leggere – è dominata dalla paranoia del Grande Fratello attraverso i secoli, e soprattutto nella nostra era di sorveglianza totale (dal Big Brother al Big Data). I membri di una società segreta vivono off-the-grid. Come l’autore dei tre romanzi, di cui in realtà non si sa nulla.

E persino io, di cui non si può certo affermare che non sia compulsivamente curioso, posso vivere benissimo senza.

* * *

Qualche citazione (riferimento come sempre alle posizioni sul Kindle).

Cominciamo da The Traveller.

At that moment, she was trying to control her anger and find the calm place within her heart. Think of a stone, her father used to tell her. A smooth black stone. Pull it out of a cold mountain stream and hold it in your hand. [2289]

Privacy had become a convenient fiction. [2856]

«Love is just another means of manipulation […]» [2923]

«Freedom is the biggest myth ever created. It’s a destructive, unachievable goal that has caused a great deal of pain. Very few people can handle freedom. A society is healthy and productive when it’s under control.» [3731]

«[…] History is a puppet show for childish minds.» [3927]

He wanted a road map, not philosophy. [4742]

«Every new experience is unusual. The rest of life is just sleep and committee meetings. […]» [5376]

«[…] The realms are dominated by a particular quality. In the Sixth Realm of the gods, the sin is pride. In the Fifth Realm of the half gods, the sin is jealousy. You need to understand that we’re not talking about God, the power that created the universe. According to the Tibetans, the gods and half gods are like human beings from another reality.»
«And we’re living in the Fourth Realm ….»
«Where the sin is desire.» Sophia turned and watched a king snake moving slowly down a conduit pipe. «The animals of the Third Realm are ignorant of all others. The Second Realm is inhabited by the hungry ghosts who can never be satisfied. The First Realm is a city of hate and anger, ruled by people without compassion. There are other names for this place: Sheol, Hades, Hell.» [5430]

[…] the appearance of freedom with the reality of control. [5910]

Passiamo a The Dark River.

Maya had watched the growing attraction between Hollis and Vicki. It was the first time she had ever noticed the evolution of two people who were falling in love. At first, their eyes followed each other when one of them got up from the table. Then they leaned forward slightly when the other person was talking. When they were apart, they spoke about the other person in a bubbly, foolish manner. [833]

Infine The Golden City.

«Even crazy people have enemies …» [1573]

«If the gods have left the stage, then it’s just the two of us.» Matthew stepped toward his son. «So who are you, Gabriel? And what kind of world do you want to live in? I’m not going to tell you what to believe. All I can do is guide you forward, and make sure you don’t turn away from your own vision.» [4588]

They were Styrofoam words — light and unsubstantial, packing materials to blunt the sharp edges. [4667]

«As ideas lose their power, stories and visual images become more and more important. Leaders offer competing stories, and this is what passes for political debate. […]» [5497]

«We can regret the past, but we can’t change what happened. We can anticipate the future, but we can’t control it. All we have is this moment—here in this room.» [5888]

«Privacy is the ability to control access to information about one’s Self. It’s easy to see that this invisible, all-pervasive system will destroy any sort of privacy. We’ll lose the power to protect our Self from the scrutiny of unknown groups or individuals. […]» [6700]

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Pergamena: una storia a lieto fine

Ci sono perdite irrimediabili, e fanno veramente male, e perdite rimediabili. Per queste – direbbe la pubblicità – c’è Mastercard.

Ho comprato il volume mancante di Plinio ed ecco il passo sul papiro e la pergamena:

Et hanc Alexandri Magni victoria repertam auctor est M. Varro, condita in Aegypto Alexandria. Antea non fuisse chartarum usum […]. Mox aemulatione circa bibliothecas regum Ptolemaei et Eumenis, supprimente chartas Ptolemaeo, idem Varro membranas Pergami tradit repertas. Postea promiscue repatuit usus rei qua constat inmortalitas hominum.

Secondo Marco Varrone anche l’invenzione della carta risale al tempo della vittoria di Alessandro Magno sull’Egitto, quando fu fondata Alessandria. Stando a lui, prima non si faceva uso di carta […]. Quando poi, a causa della rivalità fra i re Tolomeo ed Eumene a proposito delle loro biblioteche, Tolomeo impedì l’esportazione di carta, sempre secondo Varrone, a Pergamo fu inventata la pergamena. Più tardi l’uso del materiale dal quale dipende l’immortalità degli uomini si propagò di nuovo dappertutto. [Gaio Plinio Secondo. Storia naturale. III Botanica. I Libri 12-19. Torino: Einaudi. 1984. ISBN 9788806577292. pp.130-133]

I curatori dell’edizione einaudiana annotano:

Si raccontava che il re Tolomeo Epifane (205.182 a. C.), per impedire al re Eumene di Pergamo (197-159 a. C.) di costruire una biblioteca come quella di Alessandria, avesse bloccato l’esportazione della carta di papiro dall’Egitto a Pergamo, obbligando Eumene a ricorrere alla pergamena, che prese il nome da tale città. Per quanto riguarda il materiale in sé, si tratta di una pelle di agnello (o pecora, o montone, o capra) macerata nella calce, quindi raschiata, tesa e seccata in modo tale da offrire la possibilità di scrivere su entrambe le facciate.

In rete si trovano sia l’edizione latina (qui) sia la traduzione inglese (qui). Di quest’ultima riporto il brano citato e la relativa nota, che mi sembra pertinente alla nostra discussione:

M. Varro informs us that paper owes its discovery to the victorious1 career of Alexander the Great, at the time when Alexandria in Egypt was founded by him; before which period paper had not been used […]. In later times, a rivalry having sprung up between King Ptolemy and King Eumenes,6 in reference to their respective libraries, Ptolemy prohibited the export of papyrus; upon which, as Varro relates, parchment was invented for a similar purpose at Pergamus. After this, the use of that commodity, by which immortality is ensured to man, became universally known.

There is little doubt that parchment was really known many years before the time of Eumenes II., king of Pontus. It is most probable that this king introduced extensive improvements in the manufacture of parchment, for Herodotus mentions writing on skins as common in his time; and in B. v. c. 58, he states that the Ionians had been accustomed to give the name of skins, διφθέραι, to books.