20070124

the journal of the history of ideas

The most beautiful things I've ever seen come in map forms, of course. (Beauty is form, form is function.)

Here's a map of the people in whom the natural history of ideas cascaded down through the ages and across the planet.

It's missing a few early, basic ones (O Paleolithic hand-ax wielders, O flinters and fire inventors, how many times you must have discovered but never passed on your secrets!), and a few modern favorites aren't scored yet (Italo Calvino, quanto ti adoro, how could you merely be subsumed by Borges?) - but the broad strokes of the people who won the race for ideas are there.

You watched them on PBS when you were a kid, you read some of them in a Medieval History course you took in college, then you worked for one or two of their modern equivalents. But you never saw how they were all connected until now.