Notable Decorative Pieces of the Southern Shelves.
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A Compilation of Guides to Various Art Pieces of the Library.


Whether searching for books or poring through volumes, the Library's art provides respite to tired eyes. Unfortunately descriptions of the myriad portfolios of paintings, statues, exhibits and stained glass windows often elude the enthusiast. For the assistance of Wanderers able to perceive this plane it is hoped that these descriptions will be of some use.

The Window of Santa Genesius


On the wall adjacent to shelf 13201-R (near the study tables), the window of Santa Genesius can be found. Gently casting its colored rays across the tiled floors, this stained glass window is well known to the habité of the southern shelves. The window itself depicts a theater's seating, as if the viewer were on the stage looking out over the crowd.

This piece is notable, not only because the crowd depicted moves with apparent sentience, but because the crowd possesses the ability to interact with the viewer. The crowd shown lives under the belief that they are watching a play or performance, and that the viewer is in fact an actor. This can be tiresome, or even unsettling, as most viewers are simply reading or searching for volumes. As per their belief, the crowd responds to the viewers random actions by: cheering (which is amusing), booing (which is alarming), and occasionally with completely riveted silence (which is deeply, deeply unnerving).

Library goers sometimes find it useful to practice instruments or recite lines in front of this piece (see addend. 1.), as the feedback is occasionally useful. However, performers should be warned that, when vexed or highly displeased with an act, the stained glass audience will throw rotten fruit and produce. Unfortunately, these projectiles do not actually leave the window, Instead: on reaching what would be "their side" of the window it disappears and manifests on "our side" as broken glass shards of various colors. A poor performance almost invariably results in the offending viewer being showered in shattered glass and insults (addend. 2.)

1. The Southern Shelf Thespians put on a weekly show for this piece. To the group's pride it is consistently well received.
2. A well meaning viewer once attempted to explain to the crowd their current situation (inside a window). He was soundly rebuked for "a poor attempt to break the fourth wall" and was pelted off "stage".

The Collected Colors of Dr. Yasha Chernov


The collected colors of Dr. Yasha Chernov can be found in the top shelf of the armoire in the 20315-20320X Southern study table area. The accompanying journal entries can be found on the shelf directly below it. (Art enthusiasts should be warned that first time viewings of this decorative piece often result in temporary confusion, dizziness and nausea.) This piece was donated to a grateful Library by Dr. Chernov along with several journal entries explaining its discovery and creation.

The piece in question is a small cardboard box containing 13 cigarettes. The tip of each cigarette has been dipped in, scratched on, rubbed on, or otherwise imbued with a previously unknown color. Dr. Yasha Chernov obtained these colors on an unplanned journey through the Ways. The complete story (summarized here) can be found in the pertinent journal entries or "The Complete Works of Dr. Chernov."

As he describes, Dr. Chernov was a low level engineer in a Lithuanian power plant. One fine day in 1971 a test of new equipment failed, resulting in the creation of a temporary, unstable Way. Dr. Chernov was sucked into it before it sealed itself moments later.
On regaining consciousness, he found himself in a landscape he found difficult to describe.

"A nightmarish desert of the absurd and incomprehensible. I found myself in a horrifying and convoluted world. Nothing fit with my previous knowledge of the most basic of concepts. I could spend hours debating which way was up and in the end be uncertain if such a thing even existed here. Non euclidean shapes spindling and splintering across an unknowable amount of horizons, violent and unidentifiable colors flickered tantalizingly everywhere. The place hammered at my head. I am in my study as I write this but I can still hear the noise this hell scape made. It sounded like screaming. It echoed, cracking in the crowded abyssal. The only thing I will ever be sure about is that screaming. It was my own. It pounded in my ears and gnawed at my mind like it was alive and under my skin. I had not so much as opened my mouth since my arrival, but I could hear my own voice shrieking in pain."

"I once heard a blind man explain what he saw in his dreams. His world was not black or dark as many think, he sees with his eyes what we see with our ears or taste with our fingers. Its an experience you will never know unless you are blinded. This was something like that. I can never tell you what it looked like. I could stare for hours at the colors and still be unable to recreate them in my mind or remember them."

In the end Dr. Chernov lost his mind. Unable to remember how he got out, he was found wandering the rows of the Library three months later. He recovered shortly afterwards. With the help of a notebook, which he kept throughout the experience, and vague memories, he was able to piece together what happened to him.

Dr. Chernov considers 10 of the 13 colors collected to be primary colors in that plane of existence, although he admits he is probably wrong. He also laments that since his arrival in the Library the colors have dulled somewhat.

Potted Silence


With its rustling leaves and swaying branches, this decorative piece can be spotted providing gentle shade and amusement to the denizens of shelves 15062-15102Y (including the lectern adjacent to said shelves, but not the cabinets.) The artist or benefactor is unknown.

Wanderers will know this piece when they see it. "Potted Silence" is a living, growing sculpture of a sycamore tree in the autumn months. Its crown spans 15-20 yards and from floor to highest leaf about 40-45 yards. This piece is crafted from several different materials. The leaves are a fine china, exquisitely thin and painted with beautiful fall scenes. The twigs and thin branches are glazed pottery of the finest type. Finally, the trunk and thicker branches are roughly shaped and fired clay, resembling bark.

One of the notable quirks of this art piece is its performance aspect. When adequate noise, (above 30 decibels or a whisper), is achieved in the area, the piece will shed its leaves. The result is aesthetically pleasing to outside viewers, and potentially fatal to anyone underneath. Although the leaves fall with a gentle tinkling sound, they spin and glide as they tumble in a manner unhealthy to those below. Wanderers desiring books from these shelves should do so as quietly as possible.

"Potted silence" remains one of the more controversial decorative pieces in the Library (addend. 1.). Its detractors call its habit of shedding deadly sharp porcelain leaves "hazardous" and "fatal." One particularly displeased critic stated that the last thing he wanted when getting a book was "A terracotta ninja star getting stuck in my neck when I turn a page too quick."

1. These complaints usually lead nowhere, as no one is willing to attempt to remove it.

The Gramophone Gobbler


The Gramophone Gobbler remains one of the most colorful additions to the Library. A reminder of the absurd and nonsensical characteristics of the Library, this piece resides besides the roaming soup caravans of the 28098-2107 Sections. Although no personage has seen it travel, the brass and turtle shell VTMC brand Gramophone can always be found next to the bustling soup kitchens of the caravan no matter where they go.

The art piece is unique in that it will temporarily steal the voice of any and all bald people in the area. The otherwise inanimate creature is frequently able to accomplish this by sprouting crab legs, chasing, and stuffing the offending patron down its horn. The Library wanderer is then vomited out of the horn several seconds later, unable to speak for the next 40-57 minutes. The reason for this prejudice, and procedure, is unknown as the Gramophone itself has displayed its sentience in few other ways. Where the bald persons go during their temporary ingestion is not known either, since the gramophone itself lacks the physical volume to contain a full sized human. It's affiliation with the soup caravan is not understood at the moment. Bald persons wishing to purchase soup from the caravan, without enduring the inconvenience of faux digestion and temporary noiselessness, should buy a convincing toupee, wig, or at least sport a head covering of some kind. This prejudice extends beyond bald humans to any species with less than 5 percent hair coverage. The soup caravan itself appears mostly indifferent to the presence of the Gramophone (with some sects worshipping it as a deity). Subsequently, for their safety, all balding members of the caravan are banished as soon as they lack a sufficiently defined hairline.

When the surrounding area (approximately 500 ft or out of sight) is clear of bald creatures, the Gramophone will play the song "We'll Meet Again" in a brooding tone as it restlessly clacks its claws together. It should be noted that the words to this song are sung by a choir that seems to grow in size with every encounter.

The Sleeping Frog


It's just a frog (addend. 1.). It's sleeping (addend. 2.). Found near that book about interdimensional reproductive organs.

1. Might not be a frog. Could be some other kind of amphibian.
2. Probably not sleeping, I don't know if frogs sleep.

A Tankful of Impertinence


A Tankful of Impertinence is one of the less visited art pieces of the Library. In general, this art piece is not well received. Frankly everybody f**king hates it, I don't know what to tell you. He used to just be a cute little crab in a 10 gallon fish tank. He was the favorite pet of the 10002-10043 Northeast section of the Southern shelves. Beloved by all, he would gently nip at the fingers of the strangers who stopped to feed it. One day the local parchment goblins decided it would be nice to give him the gift of speech. It started off fine, he would make sounds, stumbling through words as he learned them. It was cute. Then about a week later we heard him muttering foulness under his breath. I'm looking at him as I write this and honestly I can't put down half of what he's saying.

We'd like to get rid of it but we can't just kill him. Besides, the parchment goblins love him, they wont hear of having him moved. They all crowd around him every evening and teach him new words.

A Cutting Memory


Although the location of this piece is not currently known, it remains vibrantly part of the Southern Shelves legacy. A Cutting Memory is a worn penknife manufactured somewhere near the end of the 19th century. It has a weathered Puukko profile blade with a liner lock and brass pins holding ivory scales to a steel body. The entire piece is 3.5 inches closed and 6 inches open.

The knife is a fascinating and beautiful piece in that it collects certain memories from whoever carries it. This process of collection is usually random, although it usually centers around memories which the carrier sees as significant. The memories in question are usually only a second or so in length, a mere glance of the carriers life. This piece then imparts its memories on whoever makes physical contact with it, resulting in a vision of collected glimpses of the carrier's lives. The noted wanderer Henry Salis writes a particularly moving section on the experience:

"I was assailed by a flood of memories, glimpses and moments, which were almost incomprehensible in their unfamiliarity and yet tantalizingly nostalgic. I saw places I'd never been before, things I'd never done. I saw the Danube, frozen over and embanked with snow, I saw a dead cow on the side of route 85 leaving Milwaukee, I felt fear as I sat face to face with a cobra in the New York subway, I felt pain as an old timey doctor held my arm down while he dug a 3 inch splinter out of my hand." (addend. 1.)

Because of its memory recording nature, A Cutting Memory has a nomadic history among the readers of the southern shelves. It acts as a sort of canvas for cosmic graffiti, with patrons of the Library going to great lengths to imprint their own memories into it (addend 2.). Due to its travelling nature, the present location of the penknife is almost never certain.

1. For a full listing of memories contained on the knife, The Cephalopod Digest contains an updated synopses of each memory known to be on the knife.
2. The Southern Shelves Warlock Convention is currently engaged in an attempt to curse whoever keeps leaving diarrhea memories on the cosmic memory knife. I hope you like having crab claws instead of toenails, asshole.

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