haymarket affair

10/14/2011

i have taken on the task of once a week braving book mold and dust at the local anarchist bookshop, caressing spines, straightening shelves, updating the card catalogue. the books and i are developing a close relationship through dialogue. we shoot heady phrases back and forth, pantomiming understanding, attempting to clarify our mutual ethos thru that most and least adequate form, print. my brain is still digging the passage to instant recall: “where would I find Zizek?” i wander for a few moments before the obvious. just behind your left hip–literally. i am allergic to old books and so like any vice, i of course adore them. they pile up on my shelves. i’d been meaning to take you home with me when the time was right i murmur covetously, palming some long out-of-print title. it is as circular as thrift, that one reader’s cast-off is another’s paradise lost. books have singular lives all their own, soon they will pass to other caressing or careless hands, grow dogeared and yellow with age (as some of them already have) with coffee stains and ballpoint marginalia. some bear stamps to denote they were once the property of a personal or public library, their presence here at the market as sure a symbol of parting as a certificate of divorce. who marks a book theirs, anyways? it seems like evidence of dysfunction to guard a book so jealously as to emboss your name into its ivory cover page. after all, highlighted passages shine best not when shelved but out in the open, spread for others to appreciate. but haven’t i done the same in leaner years? yes, i once entombed my volumes with that telltale idolatry of my name, so as to signify: please do not dissipate my talismans too far from the shelves where they accumulate. but i’ve grown to pass these tomes off lightly, glad to know their power as they illuminate other lives, too, rather than just my selfish own.

the lending life is short, but this affair is bound to last.

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