Friday, July 22, 2005
Sometimes I like to think the word, "demur" was invented just for me/me's, but all right Adam. Unfortunately for my street cred I don't have a digital camera, but it's nice to belong all the same.
1. How do you organize your collection? I separate those arguing in good faith (and most importantly heeding the call of justice) from those always already marked by the science of evasion, using a simple thickness quotient. Skinny books to the left, whether it's Eagleton or Agamben. Thick things like The Arcades Project to the far right, and everything else in the middle. Seriously, there's very little organization. At the moment, I'm lacking shelves. A mélange of poetry and philosophy, biographies and favorite novels rub skins. It's a bit of a mess. The history and cultural studies books have their own corner. My current room is small, with about 400 books (using the five-inch-finger method) arranged mostly by author and to a lesser degree country. So while I generally know what is in each pile and each row, sometimes I have to rummage pretty hard. A certain edition of Nietzsche next to Rabelais and Dante just because it's my father's copy and the wear on the covers seems to speak to the same era. Other times I am deliberately careful about not placing two particular authors spine to spine (such as Dostoevsky and Nabokov, or Kristeva and Derrida, for example). I doubt I'm the only one who does this. I guess my general rule is to make good (or at least interesting) bedfellows (again, hardly original), without risking too much offense. This is not so much a rule as a default, hopelessly faulty theory that nevertheless helped me accomplish the act of unpacking them from boxes. This being a relatively new place and many things having yet to find their space, accumulating cousins too rapidly as usual. Many of my books are still at my dear parent's home, sharing shelf space with previous generations (mostly 19th century English lit), some of which are perpetually on the verge of molding. Secondary stuff, memoirs and biographies go with the authors themselves. I used to have my Derrida (or for that matter, Foucault, Nabokov and Agamben) arranged chronologically in order of publication, but he's since become a bit scattered. When living in New York, I had a beautiful wooden floor hallway for books, obstacles for sock soccer. Library books, especially. Tomorrow morning at 7:30am everything on the floor goes somewhere else because we're painting.
2. What books or records do you keep separate from your collection for easy access? Thelonius Monk, Chet Baker and Leonard Cohen. Horizontal and uphill campaign on the desk, and in the bathrooms especially, yes (books, not records).
3. When you take down a book for reference, how long after you finish with it does it take you to reshelve it? Let's say a week, generally, if not within an hour.
4. What resource do you keep separate from your collection because you don't want anyone to know you have it? (Who wrote this thing anyway?) I guess there could be a pile of shame, where bad tome's like House of Leaves or wrong-headed but sometimes necessary references like Fashionable Nonesense or the most recent edition/horrendous translation of Mallarmé's complete poems could go. Their presence in the general population is mildy disturbing. I think there's more Italian opera than genre fiction, which now that I think about it makes me smile. Bearing in mind I'm not much of an opera man, truth be told.
I'd like to challenge/tag/risk offending Aboroto, Alphonse, and Archive, only if they are so inclined.
Update: Having painted the floor and let it dry, and re-organized so that favorite novels, essential philosophers and poets are on the desk (Zizek, Kristeva and Baudrillard are resigned to elsewhere), I have come to the stunning conclusion that I rather desperately need a bookshelf, preferably one of those tack-able to the wall kind, like. Thankfully this isn't my primary place of residence. But enough of this faux intimacy already.
Posted by Matt Christie at 3:26 PM