David Ross (dyvyd) wrote,
David Ross

Babel Puzzle XXVII

This is truly the "mother of all puzzles."  I knew when I started it that I was flirting with the Babel curse itself, and the puzzle has lived up to the tower's reputation.  I mentioned "faux amis" earlier.  I can find a dozen pieces that almost fit, or do actually fit and allow structural dead-ends to blossom and die without warning.  Later, I pull apart these structures and re-configure, painstakingly, many days later, arriving at the correct placement.  (see full-size puzzle images in scrapbook).

Mucking about in the browns and tans and shadows of the quay, (or as the announcer's test says: "hauling stall around the corner of the quo of the quay of the quivery") I could make no further progress for almost a full week. So  I moved into the sky of the right quadrant, and after re-arranging the border pieces again several times, began to pick up a little pace.  Then I slowed,  bogged down by the fact that the sky had many more variations of blue, pink, green, yellow,  and grey than shown in the box illustration.  The pieces mysteriously seemed to be all of a different hue than the ones next to them.  I know the puzzle must be cut from a single piece of cardboard, but to the eye some pieces seem impossibly hued to have been so cut.  Still, when assembled and seen from a distance, the hues blend.  I will probably have to wait until the whole sky is done to see if there is a pink piece in a blue sky, and a blue piece in a pink sky that need to make a final exchange.  Until then, it is a confusion that might well be called "the confounding of the language of color."

I am still optimistic that I can complete the puzzle in a year, counting on an acceleration to occur coming down the stretch this fall.

The dark brown cloth under the pieces has faded to a light, almost golden, color, and the pieces have photographed themselves on the the cloth wherever they lay undisturbed for several months.  The pieces themselves seem not to have faded that much.  Perhaps the image will fade away almost completely before I can finish?

Over on Jeffrey Ford's blog he has been talking of the tower recently.  From a post there I discovered Rudy Rucker's book: As Above, So Below, A Novel of Peter Bruegel.  I have the book now and am reading it.  I am greatly struck by the deep knowledge of European setting and history that he applies to this fiction, so much so that I briefly forgot he was an American writer and not European.

I have been having a series of  "joculum moments" lately, where I imagine that I am having an original idea, only to soon discover that several good-but-not-very-well-read books already exist on the topic.  In an almost related experience, I returned recently to a book store where I had failed to find a book on Bruegel.  Still no Bruegal.  The librarian in me rebelled and I pulled out the books on either side of where the Bruegel should have been-- and there, pushed way to the back was a small but nice book, only a quarter of an inch thick: What Makes a Bruegel a Bruegel, published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

There is a certain value to maintaining a state of denial as long as possible, at least in most non life-threatening scenarios.  Sometimes good things are forced into being by sheer will. 

Tags: babel puzzle

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