mjj (flemmings) wrote,

Grasping and non-attachment

The FFL tempts me. Someone draws my attention to an online auction of Yoshitoshi prints at ridiculously low prices (some; so far.) And I think, I might buy some of those; I could at least bid; but... but... Sight unseen is always dangerous with hanga, and I'm wondering how something that cheap could be original, and what shape they're in if they are. But even so... My Yoshitoshi prints were bought at a specific time (fall of 1985 to spring of 86-- how odd that it was in fact so short a period) for a specific reason-- an embodiment of the Japan I'd never seen at that time. That's over now; buying from nostalgia for a brief season that ended a quarter of a century ago is not a good idea. (Mind, if I won a lottery tomorrow I might fly down to New York in pursuit of Hasuis, but that's different. That's nostalgia for a place I saw.)

From the other non-grasping side, someone else is going on a bookfast. "I can read books. I'd better read books! But I can't borrow any from the library or download any unless I had a pre-existing hold on it.... And I can't buy any!" And in my case, I can't pick any off people's front lawns, which is how I scored Ackroyd's Chatterton, Bruce Chatwin's The Viceroy Of Ouidah, and The Oxford Book of Lies this afternoon. I mean, I *should* read all the stray books I've acquired over the years, as well as rereading all the books I've forgotten in the last 30. One might turn up gems amid the (let's face it) run-of-the-mill dreck.

This segues into that Facebook entry of rasetsunyo's, quoting The Guardian quoting Umberto Eco to the effect that he's a writer, not a reader, in spite of the 30,000 books in his library. Someone in the comments then quotes Nassim Taleb's Black Swan:
a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight read-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books.
Which would be too post-whatever for me if someone else hadn't elucidated the anti-library in a way that makes sense:
My unread books are an expression of faith. I'm banking on my future self needing them some day, and I want to give him everything he needs when the time comes. It's a kind of preparation for the unknown, I suppose...

Perhaps it is in that our antilibraries represent the person we would like to be (the one that has read those books) and the one we would be if only we weren't so busy being this person. When we finally do read one of those books, it is a little graduation..
Or of course it could just be the truth of that Robertson Davies quote, courtesy of incandescens, to be found in my lj profile.
Tags: art, japan, reading

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