We all know there is a kind of lazy pleasure in useless and out-of-the-way erudition. The compilation of articles and artworks of this book have given us a great deal of such pleasure; we hope the reader will share something of the fun we felt when ransacking the endless loot that supposes contemporary artistic practices. We have compiled a handbook of strange creatures conceived through time and space by the driven disinterest and passion of human imagination.

We are ignorant about the meaning of the universe, but there is something in these pieces that fit humankind’s capacities for creating imaginary and alternative worlds, for showing the reverse of things, and this accounts for their appearance in this crucial time in history. Our effort to collect and to publish the following pages is unavoidably incomplete; each theme addressed here is as old as the world itself, but it forms the basis of future editions, which themselves may grow endlessly in search of the compression of that mystery that is the human condition. This book is not meant to be read straight through; rather, we would like the reader to dip into these pages at random, just as one plays with the shifting patterns of a kaleidoscope.

Art exceeds the population of objects, acts, bodies, and events of reality, since it is composed by no more than the combination of parts of the real, and the possibilities of permutation border on the infinite. Art is only limited by our boredom or disgust. The labyrinth, that mythological fiction, is in everyone’s life, and we walk through that garden of forking paths, many times, without knowing where it will lead us. We hope that our readers get lost in these pages, which are a very small testimony to endless possibilities of interpretation of the spirit of our time. The collection of articles and artworks that makes this book possible shows how, in the face of the weak and scarce of human power against the conjectural condition of life, memory rises proudly to remind us that our days have been true, that we have been loved and that each one of us, in our own ways, has managed to forge an empire and has built what one had dreamed with one’s own hands. In this strange paradox lies the revenge of humankind against time: if everything has to become past and nothing has to overcome the inexorable passage of days, these facts that become past are already unmodified, and, therefore, untouchable—even for death or the most powerful of the gods. Nothing can change what we have managed to take from our existence. All our victories will become memories, but there they will become impregnable.

We cannot, inevitably, escape our time, so we must try to deserve it, and this, necessarily, implies making our world worthy and dignified. We are all, somehow, accomplice in the inquiry of the past and in the construction of the future.

December 2019