There are certain books that do not seem to exist-or rather, they seem to exist only as a fictional creation, a kind of imaginary interaction. Since Rabelais, whose giant Pantagruel spent his time in reading imaginary masterpieces that included a safe guide to public flatulence, written by a certain Magister Noster Ortuinus, not a few authors have populated their fiction, their personal universe with some shared elements with the continuum seem as common reality, with fictional, impossible books. These are volumes that, if they existed (something unlikely, an unfeasible technical achievement), would be like the lost volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica found by Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares in the tale "Tlön, Uqbar, orales Tertius" – part of a conspiracy against the foundations of our reality. But at certain moments we come across these imaginary books; our touch recognizes its textures, the softness of its pages and the graceful smoothness of its cover. Yes, this book exists, it’s not only a hallucination or a tricky that deceived our senses. But, still, we are not absolutely sure about that. The moment we find imaginary books (or that could be imaginary) is as if we find a breach in the continuity of a daily, systematic, prosaic, immanent reality. I can say that sometimes in my life I found these semi-imaginary volumes in the most common and uncommon places – libraries, small and large bookstores, second-hand bookstores, virtual bookshops, small publishers' websites (part of these books, incidentally, were reviewed here, in this blog, which came to life because of them).
One of the last encounters with these books that seem to make the fabric of reality thinner and easier to crack - to break and become a mutated piece of imagery - was with the astonishing Astronautilia / Hvězdoplavba, by the Czech polygrapher Jan Křesadlo (In fact, the pseudonym of Václav Pinkava), published by Ivo Železný, an editor famous for his work of popularizing Esperanto. It is an amazing book that came from this distant land (at least from my point of view, a pedestrian in the southern hemisphere), which dissolves into an equally imaginary haze, from a small town whose curious sonority of the name, to a Portuguese speaker, sounds at once poetic and fairylike, the land of the Golem and Kafka, the Czech Republic. As I opened the package, I found a huge tome in a solid cardboard box. This case, at once rustic and functional, skillfully done, showed in its cover only the author's signature, in a convulsive calligraphy – a sure anticipation of the contents of the case, already visible in the spine of the book that such arrangement had exposed. For indeed, this content would be even more surprising.
An exquisite book in more ways than one, Astronautilia / Hvězdoplavba will be the target, the first one, of a series of small bibliophagic videos and commentaries, which will open a new methodology of our blog. I hope it will please everyone (in any case, please send comments on this and other issues, if necessary).