books


Xenophon examined the xiphoid markings left by xylophagous insects that had been at the xoana lining the xystus.

Inspired by this exotic dust-gatherer from the shelves:

… soon to be Ex Libris: another volume for the charity box.

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Today I did behold a lemon and upon its label were there inscribed the names of Imazalil and Thiabendazole. Purchasing this cursèd fruit and spiriting it from the market, I was able swiftly to neutralize it within an admixture of quinine and a reduction of juniper water. Then I did betake to my study to further examine this phenomenon.

I have begun these, my Notes Towards a Grimoire of Contemporary Spirits Whose Powers May or May Not Be Trusted.

1. Imazalil

2. Thiabendazole

3. Triticonazole

4. Tebuconazole

5. Glyphosate

6. Thiacloprid

7. Metaldehyde

8. Cypermethrin

9. Abamex

10. Isomek

11. Kunshi

12. Sokol

13. Tropotox

Let it be known then that their ranks do extend yet further, and while capable each of great boon even so do they offer a bane for their unintended actions upon the other plants and creatures of the air, water, and earth.

Next:

On the Rites of the Summoning of the Mouthdaemon, M.S.G.

Having just gone back to work after two weeks off, the mood is positive. This is despite the continuing attempts of the weather systems bothering the UK to impose a pathetic fallacy of doom and angst. Every time it seems to be clearing up some fresh annoyance sweeps in. The reason then, for this upbeat demeanour, in the face of our shit northern climate? It is due to a feeling, actively nurtured, of letting go of some things.

Holidays are a good time to take stock, and Easter holidays are traditionally a good time for Spring cleaning. With a succession of weather fronts Setting In, we were less able than usual to throw open the windows, air the sheets, give walls a lick of paint, then pop down the river to visit a rodent pal.

However, we (me and The Best Belovèd) did spend a good deal of time looking at the shelves, as detailed in the Books post (2nd April just then), and the cupboards, making plans to shed a ton of baggage. This is a fact moonlighting as a metaphor; we have a weight of stuff accumulated, between us. I’m not sure if it’s worse or better that we keep a bunch of extra stuff in an attic space (another dual function phrase).

The precise purpose of holding on to most of it is unclear. I mean – sure, that’s 14 boxes of books… But, that’s 14 boxes of books!

Hoarding is something one tends to associate with those sad cases who are found dead under 50 years’ worth of Daily Mirror back issues, knocked out by a collapsed stack of Dolmio jars, stifled in the dust of a lifetime’s unemptied ashtrays. Not parsimony, not Scrooge McMean avarice… just an inability to shed? Yet here we are, with a bunch of consumer goods, that escape uselessness by the narrowest of annotated margins. Or that vault effortlessly over boundaries of taste and meaning from a realm of slightly boss-eyed whimsy. Exhibit K: a 7″ single of Kylie Minogue’s I Should Be So Lucky, which I am fairly confident I have kept for the sole reason that if you play it at 33 rpm it sounds a teensy bit like Rick Astley:

How we passed the time in 1987.

Happily, there are remedies for this kind of low-level symptom of late capitalism. A few years back I wrote something about psychological benefits found in setting fire to old notebooks. Clearly my sentiment is not so incorrigible that it can’t be combatted with a well-timed radical gesture. …I’m not going to burn all the books! Not that radical. But as the holidays drew to a close, a moment of clarity enveloped the house, and various schemes – and, crucially, motivated enthusiasm – for riddance took hold.

Here’s to the enduring joys of bibliophilia, of record collecting, whatever the little indulgences in items that foster joy and devotion… but here’s also to being able to see and accept when something could quite easily be got rid of, never seen again, and remain unmourned.

“…my god, it’s full of tat.”

One benefit of a more attentive approach to time and media management is the sudden release of seemingly days of spare time. Using an app to block other apps has been helping to create a habit of putting down the phone and starting something else instead. Pens, paper, making music, and a return to reading.

Earlier this year I started making space on shelves, thinning a book collection. Most of the volumes were already in a stack of boxes in an attic space, with the remainder in piles two deep on the upper shelves. The lower reaches have been annexed, now a junkyard jumble of jigsaws, card games, noisemaking toys, pebble collections.

The aesthetic improvement of the remaining rows of double-stacked books took the form of boxing to donate – mostly to St Michael’s Hospice shop – and boxing to keep, until some ill-defined event horizon beyond which the Book Collection might be returned to the shelves in all its glory.

The process culminated in a kind of at least half-engineered Damascene instance, where I was sat looking round the room at the books now on shelves, knowing that it was all the ones I hadn’t read… Some of which have been with me round the block at least twice.

It prompted a reforming bibliophile’s reevaluation of the amount of rubbish one carries around (metaphorical interpretation also available, in fact I think I have the hardback version of that as well…)

I also commenced a reading programme. So far this year I’ve gone through:

I Will Never Write My Memoirs – Grace Jones

Nina Simone:The Biography – David Brun-Lambert

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline (on ereader)

Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd

The Atrocity Archive – Charles Stross

Lord of Light – Roger Zelazny

The Fire Next Time – James Baldwin

Neuromancer – William Gibson

All Tomorrow’s Parties -William Gibson

The Rum Diary – Hunter S. Thompson

Make Room! Make Room! – Harry Harrison

Some of these have been well worth the wait. No doubt some will not. Still, y’know… the books all represent something that resonated, at least once, on some frequency or other. There’s a connection, I mean, although with what is perhaps another matter. It feels like a relationship I understand a bit better, anyway.

Now, better post this before the app block comes on…

Tomorrow: Current Affairs.

Right, I’m going to do it.

Silas Marner, the deceptively slight novel by George Eliot, can still pose problems for modern, young readers. If you are unfamiliar with the book, the main character is an alienated weaver-turned-miser who loses his gold but regains his soul (etc). He has two leather bags full of guineas, gold coins he likes to fondle lovingly.

Tonight I was marking some empathic work from students – mostly diary entries in character. One of them had written:

My genies. My golden shiny genies. Why did you have to leave me?

The recasting of Silas Marner as a magical realist tale woven through with 1001 Nights is a wonderful notion. It even got better:

Gem Rodney, I bet it was that man. He was always jealous of my genies. Oh, how my genies overpowered his.

…and a jinn warfare aspect would certainly enliven the novel for a contemporary teen audience.

While we’re mashing:

IMG_20160525_211741Here’s to Douglas Adams. It’s Towel Day today, which I chose to celebrate by not finding out about it until slightly less than four of our Earth minutes ago.

Here is a link to a list article, many of which might be adopted as a life guide only by the terminally misguided (something something the one about airports).

Still – hey hey hey! – it was the DNA. So, yes, EFF IT.

 

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