The Song of the Limulus
Text by Mar Gámiz
“And, just as certain creatures are the last surviving testimony to a form of life which nature has discarded, I wondered whether music might not be the unique example of what might have been–if the invention of language, the formation of words, the analysis of ideas had not intervened–the means of communication between souls. It is like a possibility that has come to nothing; humanity has developed along other lines, those of spoken and written language.”
–Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time. 5. The Prisoner.
As we know, the limulus, with its ancestral characteristics, is a daily reminder that times immemorial are part of our present. Its multiple eyes have witnessed over millions of years the changing of the seasons; ocean currents and some moonlit nights have sculpted its shell and tail.
With all this experience behind it, the limulus is a silent repository of anecdotes of nature waiting to be unraveled by vigilant readers. These readers, after a while, will understand that in order to read what the arthropod has assimilated it is necessary to develop a method to listen to the limulus’ historic song, and once tempered, run through it as fingers do through the shelves of a library.
Located in La Tabacalera, one of the oldest neighborhoods of Mexico City, is a very special library. The dream of any contemporary encyclopedic, this collection consists of incunabula, rare and exquisite books, notable magazines as well as many first editions classics (many signed by the authors) from different disciplines and nationalities, although the Mexican books (printed locally, written by Mexican authors or that deal with Mexico) are an important part of the collection. So much so that it would be enough to sort them chronologically to write the history of the book, since the arrival of the printing press up to the present. That is, the authors are monks who described indigenous languages, Jesuits like Father Clavijero, scholars of the Mexican land such as Humboldt, Fernández de Lizardi, those that were printed by Talleres Gráficos de México, Octavio Paz and his descendants.
However, that which runs through this library comes directly from the formation of his collector: the love of knowledge. In it, great works of philosophy, literature, history and art coexist. If we had to describe it, without a doubt it would be nicknamed a “Philosophical Library,” in which the first German edition of the works of Hegel occupies a distinguished place next to its translations and commentaries in other languages.
Speaking of languages, Spanish here feels at home, it rubs shoulders with books in Latin, Italian and French, and then goes partying with others in German and Greek.
Surprisingly the dust has not settled in none of its more than twenty thousand volumes, and the diligent moth has flirted only with a few. Is it perhaps due to the constant presence of musical waves that invade the library? Because, as faithful communicative companions to the books, records of a varied musical selection inhabit this unique space.
The communication between souls that Proust speaks of occurs even amongst the souls of objects. Here it seems that, amongst so many melodies and aged voices, the question lies in elucidated the song of the limulus.