The Web as Wunderkammer

“We moderns tend to associate boxes and cabinets with the mundane. They hold a single type of item. They order and sort. They serve as metaphors for the banal, the ordinary, the pedestrian. Our public figures frequently endeavor to “think outside” them and occasionally offer to blow them up.

Yet imagine a cabinet that contains rubies, “unicorn” horns, and Hindu sculptures. Pocket watches, pocket portraits, guns, silk ribbons, saints’ relics, and perfume bottles. Deadly poisons, Amazonian drugs, powdered mummies, fossilized bones, and bezoar stones. A cabinet that contains a world in miniature.

This was the curiosity cabinet, or Wunderkammer.

Read more at The Appendix.

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