All tagged the wild library

The laws of nature are said to be written in the same language that birds sing their songs in. Mastery of this secret tongue has only been claimed by a handful of human beings over the centuries, and even they could neither speak it nor translate it, only understand it.

The leather-bound cookbook contains three-hundred seventy-seven recipes, including instructions for preparing alligator skin, thickening petroleum into flan, and slow-cooking ingots of iron until they’re tender enough to swallow. Before all of this, however, the text begins with a set of initiatory instructions, required for the chef to “survive their own work.” These instructions are as follows:

The seventeenth chapter of Abstruse Geometry concerns the mathematical problem of snakes swallowing their own tails. Following in the footsteps of a lost treatise by Athanasius Kircher, the tome describes a mysterious knot known as an “ourobohedron,” which is composed entirely of snakes engaged in varying degrees of autophagy. What it lacks in mathematical rigor, it makes up for in curiosity. The figure is described as follows:

Jack and the Beanstalk begins with its titular character making a pact with the devil. This element of the story is largely overlooked, but undeniable; he sacrifices his family’s prize calf to a mysterious salesman in exchange for a handful of magic beans. The consequences of this Faustian bargain are left out of the legend’s most well-known rendition, but given other tales from the past with similar devices, it is safe to conclude that in some way or another, Jack has committed an act of self-damnation.

You’d read enough Borges to know that wandering into a strange library alone was an ill-advised move, but you couldn’t resist this time around. Its gates exuded that incense of savory dust unique to the most ancient of tomes (which is, perhaps, the most tangible manifestation of wisdom known to mankind). From outside, it resembled a cave as much as it did a temple; you found it hard to determine whether the entrance was lined with stalactites, or columns, or teeth.

“The clawfoot bathtub,” this book begins, “is a distant cousin of the crockpot and cauldron. Although its natural habitat is typically found outside the kitchen, it demonstrates a particular susceptibility to culinary magic due to its shape and composition. Being quadrupedal and wrought from relatively flexible materials, bringing one to life is often one of the most basic lessons taught to apprentice deep chefs.”

The cover of the book is printed in thick, loud lettering: “The Secret Taxonomy of Lightning and its Anatomical Details, by Thomas Edison.” This misattribution is surprising, as despite it being the only copy of the book to ever exist, the Wizard of Menlo Park still managed to be plagiarize its contents. Despite this, you know the truth about its author, as well as the ramifications of its existence.