FOOTNOTES TO A HISTORY OF CLOCKS
1. A dial believed to show the moon’s age, phase, and node, as well as a star map and several planets.
2. She described this device as the height of precision. Behind a little door the mechanism was turning and turning.
3. “I had wanted to preserve the measurements, their pristine order. Each of the charts was a tiny mirror held to the sun’s oblique orbit.”
1. To swing back and forth with a steady rhythm.
†2. To waver, as between conflicting opinions.
3. To vary between extremes, especially within a fixed period of time.
5. During these years, she felt as though she would be faced with a decision. The clock within this cathedral recorded the movements of minor stars. But from its interior a series of unfamiliar notes emerged, that ominous ringing.
6. A late sixteenth-century church record, in which the simple machine turned against the monks. The illustration depicts their attempt to gather water and extinguish the great fire.
7. Mychanique. Translated from the French as “mechanical.” Meaning that industrial modernity gave rise to life in its most natural state.
8. The album pairs these engraved pictures with brief narratives, in which characters are faced with both reward and retribution. The queen’s favorite entry was the castle clock, a symbol of grandeur, wealth, and power in medieval Scotland.
9. She remembered only the fine sands pouring through a tiny hole. Her image reflected in the cut-glass surface.
FOOTNOTES TO A HISTORY OF BIRDS
1. A rare variety of cockatiel, which was said to feed on metal scraps and little shards of colored glass.
2. She opened the cage when the shades were drawn. The apparatus buzzing beneath a plaster ceiling.
3. “I had wanted to preserve its feathers, their weightless presence. Now the hollow bones lay shattered beneath tufts of green and scarlet.”
†1. Extremely distressed or agitated.
2. Overly complex or ornate.
‡3. Wearied or exhausted by overwork.
5. The documentary depicts their efforts to develop a machine. This invention was inspired by her experience embalming butterflies. Their mother found the device shattered among various feathers and antennae fragments.
6. Überest. Translated from the German as “remnant.”
7. “Its song, however simple, resists my efforts to preserve, to document. And somehow the creature survives on steel and shattered glass.”
8. Within the box, they found a small vial of ether. A sheaf of paper inscribed with musical notations.
9. The song is best described as a hymn or paean. For a complete musical score, see Appendix B.
FOOTNOTES TO A HISTORY OF THE MOON
1. The practice of mapping and naming lunar mountain ranges.
2. Using a five-inch reflector, she produced a daguerreotype of the moon, thus introducing photography to the celestial world.
3. “It was then I realized that documentation was an unforgiving task. The mercury contained in the image left tiny fissures on my delicate hands.”
1. A substance causing injury or death.
†2. In chemistry, the task of inhibiting a reaction between elements.
5. A little-known French film, in which the heroine names her children after features of the moon’s topography. Viewers were said to have expressed dismay at the prevalence of suicide in the work’s numerous subplots.
6. Here she alludes to a recurring dream, in which she sees her image reflected in one of the smaller lunar basins.
7. Aitken. Meaning the south pole. Noted for its untroubled surface and frigid nights.
8. An unpublished portion of their correspondence. Here she states that she did not expect the chemicals to injure, much less debilitate and poison her.
9. The experiment tests the moon’s elaborate magnetic field. Its insatiable consumption of nitrogen and ice.