At Varberg, Bexell had begun museumizing other things as well–the voices of dead orators, writers, scientists, thinkers, philosophers, poets, warriors and other well-known personalities–for an imagined posterity.

 

At Torstorp in Varberg, Sweden, lies the erstwhile property of Alfred Bexell (1831-1900), who was a Member of Parliament. He purchased the 18th century cottage–what later came to be known as the Bexell Cottage–from Jöns Jönsson in 1876 along with all its movables, including Jönsson’s snuffbox, which went into Bexell’s collection.

Bexell was the first man in Sweden to purchase a peasant cottage for purposes of museumization. The cottage was originally in Harplinge, but was moved to Varberg in 1906. At Varberg, Bexell had begun museumizing other things as well–the voices of dead orators, writers, scientists, thinkers, philosophers, poets, warriors and other well-known personalities–for an imagined posterity. However, his choice of curation was rather unusual. Bexell’s was a museum of voices writ on stone.

Between 1880 and 1890, Bexell employed engravers to inscribe verse and prose on the rocks of Torstorp. The luminous men whose voices have been recorded on Bexell’s talking stones are Bacon, Caesar, Aristotle, Dante, Ericsson, Nansen, Mirabeau, and so on. It was as though Bexell was trying to maintain a ledger of wisdom in his “petrous journal.”

More than 600 names have been identified from Bexell’s museum of stoned voices, with over 180 quotations, sayings, and aphorisms, some of which are Bexell’s own thoughts, to which belong

What is sleep but the image of death.

or,

Whoever has never sought love and friendship is far poorer than those who have lost them both.

After the death of Bexell, his stones were forgotten.Then, in 1925, a family chanced upon the inscriptions accidentally while they were on a picnic in Varberg. Bexell’s desire to keep alive the voices of the engraved in stone engravings is an enchanting example of man’s futile ambition to outlive the hostilities of nature. But certainly, his stones are a living example of the constant travels of human voices across classifications of geography, time and death.

 

Coldnoon Bureau

Coldnoon Bureau

Coldnoon (International Journal of Travel Writing & Travelling Cultures) is a refereed, international and interdisciplinary online and print journal that publishes poetry, research papers and nonfiction on the subjects of travel, literary and human geography, psychogeography, and new perspectives on spatiality and travel.

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