Upon the discovery of the word Bibliomancy

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By choosing the word bibliomancy, I have forced myself to think long and hard about the investment we as humans have in the written word. Twenty years ago, I made a filmed entitled “Following the Object to Its Logical Beginning”, so I guess I’ve been fascinated with the power of the thing for a long time. With bibliomancy, the thing is the book and the book, in most cases, is holy. But, for those of us secular folks, committed to the magic and the mystery of telecommunications, the holy book has become the telephone book. It offers us access to the identities and locations of millions of other people – people we might marry, people we might meet on a bus, people who are rich, people who are brilliant, people who are almost destitute, people who are no longer people but whose names still remain in the book. Faith in the book implies a belief in its ability to lead us to divine awareness, maybe even to see into the future. The shooting of a film for this word takes us to a basement where we I photograph the flipping of a Manhattan telephone book while my daughters fan a feint breath across the pages. Later through Flash animation, a hundred names will tumble from the page.  (Lynne Sachs)

Bibliomancy: Mandatory Messages

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Words and messages (or attempts at them) are impossible to avoid on the streets of the city. Whether or not we can read them, understand them, or interpret them, they are powerful images that attack the senses. These are snapshots from my trips to and from school and extra-curriculars. These are the images that assault my consciousness.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOC3WXAuAw4

Bibliomancy: A Little Flip Book About Love and Sex

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(and Masturbation)…
The passion of sex has become intertwined within our modern notions of love. Sharing loving moments with another person is the most primal human desire. And SEX is the most intrinsic physical expression of that love.

BUT if you’re home alone on Saturday night, without the tender touch of another, how could you possibly fulfill your desire? Read a book of course!
Each turning page contains a poem of loving tenderness. Skim the pages one at a time OR watch as passion explodes!

As infamous New Yorker Woody Allen says,

“Don’t knock masturbation, it’s sex with someone I love.”


Bibliomancy: “A Thousand Eyes”

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“A Thousand Eyes” was created in conjunction with the Abecedarium: NYC project through the New York Public Library.

Of the 26 words I chose BIBLIOMANCY. My initial attraction to the word bibliomancy derives from my fascination with the absurd. I sometimes find that the most complex implications can be gleaned from absurdist expression in any form. Be it through performance, human interaction, film, literature, art, etc… Bibliomancy is the art or practice that seeks to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge usually by the interpretation of omens or by the aid of supernatural powers using a book, sometimes a bible or other sacred text is used. The book will be opened at a random page and while keeping your eyes closed you will point at a line or passage in the book. My passage was selected from Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. Siddhartha is one of my favorite books sitting on the shelf and also one that has had a significant impact on my attitude towards existence. Thus, I deemed it significant enough in my life to warrant such a divination. The inspiration for the film was the following passage:

“Tenderly, he looked into the rushing water, into the transparent green, into the crystal lines of its drawing, so rich in secrets. Bright pearls he saw rising from the deep, quiet bubbles of air floating on the reflecting surface, the blue of the sky being depicted in it. With a thousand eyes, the river looked at him, with green ones, with white ones, with crystal ones, with sky-blue ones. How did he love this water, how did it delight him, how grateful was he to it! In his heart he heard the voice talking, which was newly awaking, and it told him: Love this water! Stay near it! Learn from it! Oh yes, he wanted to learn from it, he wanted to listen to it. He who would understand this water and its secrets, so it seemed to him, would also understand many other things, many secrets, all secrets.”

I really wanted to represent my own view of New York through a lens. So I went out to the Brooklyn Bridge with my camera and shot this footage. “A Thousand Eyes” is essentially my own exploration of the possibilities of the apparatus of the cinema. I really wanted to exploit the camera and force it to do the opposite of what is expected. The result: Beauty.

It was edited to my own mix of hauntingly beautiful and reminiscent sounds from the Epson Stylus 600 printer, as recorded originally by melack from The Free Sound Project Organization.


Ryan P. Nethery


Bibliomancy: The morning of Wednesday, June 4, 2008

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Monday, I was part of a group museum educators that visited a public school in Hempstead. We were invited to be audience to short performances inspired by books, first through fifth graders had read and studied in the school year that’s drawing to an end. Against sets and backdrops created by the students and their parents, the students, often in costume, presented fragments from works by authors such as Eric Carle and Dr. Seuss, and from books like Charlotte’s Web and The Magic Schoolbus. One fifth grade class had chosen poetry—the poetry of Langston Hughes. I enjoyed being reconnected to his poetry, to hear I, too again. Being an immigrant, I wasn’t introduced to his work or that of other American poets, until my thirties. This morning I was stirring, woke up at 5, got up, went to my desk, and took The Collected poems of Langston Hughes off the shelf. I sat down, opened it, and did so, on page 390 and 391—a spread of children’s rhymes.


By what sends
the white kids
I ain’t sent:
I know I can’t
be President

… was the rhyme my eyes landed on, a rhyme written, at least half a century ago. A rhyme that is being rewritten this year, being transformed by Senator Obama and the America of today, the America of June 4th 2008, the America of the morning after the day Senator Obama clinched the Democratic nomination.

… Tomorrow,
[He]’ll be at the table…

Bibliomancy: Death and the Compass

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In the middle of night I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I decided to read a short story that would help me fall a sleep again. The short story I decided to read was “Death and the Compass” by Jorges Luis Borges, a wonderfully imaginative Argentinian writer whom I recently discovered. Instead of falling a sleep, I ended up reading the whole story.

The word Bibliomancy immediately came to my mind. The story disguises itself as a detective/mystery story, but it’s much more than that. Where else have you read a detective story where a detective reads religious writings to solve a puzzle? I don’t want to spoil the fun by telling you more. You can read it online here: