taxonomic impulses


The Borges essay that Mateusz refers to below is delightful, and pops up in all kinds of theoretical and poetic contexts, so I thought it would be worth reproducing the passage in question–Borges’  imaginary Chinese encyclopedia, the Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, classifies animals as:

1. those that belong to the Emperor,
2. embalmed ones,
3. those that are trained,
4. suckling pigs,
5. mermaids,
6. fabulous ones,
7. stray dogs,
8. those included in the present classification,
9. those that tremble as if they were mad,
10. innumerable ones,
11. those drawn with a very fine camelhair brush,
12. others,
13. those that have just broken a flower vase,
14. those that from a long way off look like flies.

(Here’s a link to a translation of the full text of  “The Analytical Language of John Wilkins”)


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