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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Books

As people were asking about the value of my books after my recent apartment fire, I decided that value could be determined 3 ways.

(1) Economic. How much would it cost to replace the book? How much did I pay for it originally? Some were gifts, some would be expensive to replicate in that I would have to order them from Spain.

(2) Sentimental. The book is not only a gift, but bears the signature of the author, or a water-color drawing. Or it's a book I've had many years and one that has formed a part of my identity.

(3) Use value. A book I need right now or in the immediate future to do my research.

Obviously these categories overlap but don't coincide completely. The scholarly library is a main part of one's usable scholarly base: it is amassed over years, at considerable expense, cumulatively speaking. A few hundred dollars here, fifty there, ten or twenty there, over a virtual lifetime. There were books ruined that I've had since high school. And one forms sentimental attachments. I felt sick to my stomach when I saw a copy of some particularly prized volumes covered with ash and soaked in water.

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