The World is Bound By Secret Knots

Tags: The Coolest Guy Ever; Hodgkin’s Law of Parallel Planetary Development; “If this is anybody but Athanaius Kircher, you’re stealing Charles Fort’s bit.”

'Who's side are you on?' 'That would be telling.'

There are a number of reasons why I don’t add to this weblog or post to Cliopatria as often as I’d like to or ought to. Two pretty good reasons why I don’t are wrapping up in the next few weeks, but a bouncing new reason is due (gulp!) by the end of this month. One not so good reason for not blogging is my own paralysing sense that everything I might care to write about has been exhaustively covered by other blogs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve set out to write something, Googled for a little information, and found so many pages on the topic that I just couldn’t bear to add to the bloviage of the blogosphere. I realize this is a lame excuse for not posting. Surely everything that can be written about has been written about somewhere. But there it is.

That’s a bit of neurotic throat-clearing before saying that I really don’t know what to make of this: The Proceedings of the Athanasius Kircher Society. Athanasius Kircher was a 17th century Jesuit polymath and collector of oddities. Charles Fort owns my heart in such matters, callow Americanist that I am, but I could hardly disagree with Scott McLemee when he dubbed Kircher “Just About the Coolest Guy Ever” way back in 2002. The Society’s interests, according to its mission statement, extend to “the wondrous, the singular, the esoteric, the obsessive, the arcane, and the sometimes hazy frontier between the plausible and the implausible — anything that Father Kircher might find cool if he were alive today.” In practice, the topics covered on the Society’s marvelous weblog run towards historical automata, bizarre musical instruments, unworkable inventions, and other wrong turns and cul de sacs in the histories of science of technology. So you can guess why I’m interested in the site.

There’s just one thing that’s troubling me about this wonderful font of weirdness. Take a look at the layout and color scheme of their site. Does it remind you of anything? Anything at all?

The Society’s archives only go back to February 2006, but they’ve posted about ten times as much material in two months as I have in two years. Now, I don’t own the colors beige and brown, and I’m not claiming that anybody is stealing my bit. Fra Kircher would no doubt endorse some theory of parallel weblog development a la Star Trek’s Hodgkin’s Law to explain the phenomena. I just feel so awfully redundant, like one of those Philip K. Dick characters who gets replaced by a clone or doppelganger that proves to be his superior in nearly every respect.


  1. Yeah, I ran across TPotAKS about a week ago, and I noticed the overlap in graphic design and subject matter. I’d take it as an homage. They seem like cool kids.

  2. Not as weird for me as finding it was for you, but my roommate just pointed out the Kircher site to me this morning (and my first thought was “wait, this isn’t Rob’s blog”). I hope you two just happen to read the same things.

  3. Honestly, your site is quite like an old one of mine. And it’s not exactly parallel: in some sense, we’re all harking back to the classic form: parchment color, clear black print, red highlighting, and, oh yeah, two columns of gloss, baby!

    If my college course on illuminated manuscripts is to be believed, there are tens of thousands of manuscripts hundreds of years old all stealing our bit.

  4. Greetings from the Kircher Society. Thank you for your kind words about our web site, which we were shocked to stumble upon, for much the same reason that you were shocked to stubmle upon us. Somehow, independently it seems, we have managed to create nearly identical page layouts. Right down to the color. Truly unusual. This speaks to some bizarre synchronicity, I suppose. At any rate, having uncovered our design doppleganger, we look forward in exploring your web site more thoroughly.

  5. Thanks for stoppping by! Just in case it’s not clear from the post above, I’m awed by the eldritch eliptony of the Society’s site, and nothing but flattered by the design similarities, which I have no doubt are purely coincidental synchronicity and evidence of good taste.

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