Monday, March 02, 2009

THE PLACE OF THE CURE OF THE SOUL

A few years ago I used to do weekly talks at the Theosophical Society here in Edinburgh - they took place in the outstanding library there, a spacious early Georgian-era room with a couple of thousand rare antiquarian books neatly stacked on the surrounding shelves all on various odd esoteric subjects. The books seemed to, almost magically, emit an intoxicating aura that positively energised everyone present.

It's said that your own collection reveals a lot about who you are - to me, it's better expressed the other way round, that you are a living revelation of the books that you've read and been exposed to (or not read, as the case may be).
Moreover, when visitors come round and peruse your shelves, as is their wont, the books you have often reveal unexpectedly pleasing things about them that you may never have otherwise discovered through conversation - "ooh, I didn't know you were into such-and-such, William, I love such-and-such..."

Collections of books exude enormous living personality and energy, which is why I've always been drawn to libraries. They give great solace, and were one left in an extreme place of isolation, I believe books alone could keep me going, while music and moving pictures could be routinely sacrificed. I certainly couldn't live without them and wish there was more time in life to read everything that's worth reading.

Enjoy this remarkable collection of libraries around the world
- sadly, none of which I've had the pleasure of visiting.

8 comments:

SYpHA_69 said...

Yeah, I think one of the great tragedies of life is that one is unable to read everything that one wants to. This especially has been something of a problem for me... five years ago, I got a job at a bookstore, and while I detest the place it does have one perk: an employee 30% discount. The only bad thing about that is that I've purchased more books than I can possibly read... last year my new years resolution was to read at least 50 of them, which I accomplished, and I'm trying to go through a lot of them this year also... but it's so easy to get distracted... "Should I be reading this right now, or do I really want to be reading something else?" And so on and so forth.

Grandpa Scorpion said...

I know what you mean Sypha. Realistically, it would probably take me a year to finish reading my purchases.

Thanks for the post, William. I love it with bibliophiles weigh in on their passion. I am embarrassed to admit that the Pierpont library is literally 10 blocks away from where I am weekdays and I didn't realize it, much less visit the place.

John McAndrew said...

By any chance did you visit the Martha Rosler library exhibition when it was in Edinburgh last year William?

antti juuso said...

Yes, it is indeed a tragedy that there is never enough time to read all the worthwhile books, but then again owning or just handling fascinating volumes is enough for me in that case, which mostly explains my rather irrational habit of acquiring and keeping all the books I want to read rather than borrowing or disposing of them when I am through with them. Just this morning I received a beautifully bound volume of selected texts by Democritus and Epicurus - I am truly happy for just owning this item, even though I am surely going to devour its contents as soon as I have a chance to do it.

William Bennett said...

didn't visit that exhibition, John - though already feel that I should have

David Cotner said...

Dammit, happy belated birthday!

Adverse Effect said...

Book shops are a favourite of mine, rather than libraries, and secondhand ones at that. Every time I return to the UK and visit friends in Brighton, I always ensure there's enough time to at least visit a couple of them on offer there. And although, of course, I wholeheartedly agree there's never (going to be) enough time to read everything one may want to, I'd also contend a huge disappointment is never having enough money to buy all the books one may likewise want...

Luckily, there's a musty old bookshop here in Krakow too which has a section catering for the ex-pat community that sometimes proffers a treasure, plus will buy old books from you too.

Wonder if you've yet got round to Cohen's 'Beautiful Losers', by the way...?! Recommended to you when I stayed last year. His writing goes much further here than in his songs, although there's no denying his poetry delivers on every count...

Richard Molyneux said...

An incredible link. William, do you have a librarything.com account?.