Massive, impenetrable writings.

Thomas Browne's Pseudodoxia Epidemica

An attempt to fully explain the physical world in the mid-1600s. Curious where he chooses to start. And where he goes next. This language is so distant that it has become whimsical. Such chapter headings as: Of swimming: that some men swimme naturally, that men drowned do float the ninth day when their gall breaketh, women prone and men supine or upon their backs. And further: Religio Medici, for instance, among his writings.

The Book of War Devices

This book isn’t enormous—but it’s old and musty and it goes here. It’s baffling: how did this Renaissance age compendium of drawings by Johannes de Fontana survive? Infantile drawings of inventions—some weapons, but many dazzling theatrical projectors and masks. (Via Imperica, which also pointed me to the The Codex Atlanticus, a much larger collection of drawings by da Vinci.)

The Joseph Smith Papers

I come from ‘Mormon’ culture—I was raised on its tales and legends, I love it (the angel Moroni, The Three Nephites, brass and golden plates, peep stones, pioneer hair art, etc.) and this collection of documents is a favorite window into the mysterious emergence of The Book of Mormon. To me, this is emblematic of the Internet: a church having to come to terms with its origins publicly. (From this part of me stems a fascination with Homeric writings, scripture of any kind, The Mabinogion, the National Treasure scene where Diane Kruger and Nicholas Cage exhale romantically inches above a deglassed Declaration of Independence—and how the Internet might spread, enhance or warp them all.)