Wednesday, August 29, 2018

closing chapters

As I sort through the carefully-packed boxes that have not been touched since May, I discover two emotions hiding in them:

A strong distaste for things that, once owned, feel essential and difficult to doff. Having lived all summer out of suitcases and overnight bags, the sheer amount of material goods that is not even an apartment's-worth is demoralizing. But once in your possession they become harder to free yourself from.

But the things do not dictate your response towards them or stance towards them—not if you ground yourself on something deeper.

The things cannot control your disposition or sway your inner stability—if you are resting on something other, entirely—something or one of a sortal difference from them.

The second is a remembrance—a missed and vaguely forgotten taste of My Books.

My library does not have all the right titles, it is not filled out with all the important books to own. It is still many sizes smaller than its gaps, and it is unabashedly idiosyncratic. It records, like tree barks phases of growth and periods of lack. It holds in resin the history of my own thought and constant education. This small bunch of Dorothy Sayers books notes that postgraduate obsession, the smalls scripts slipped between larger volumes is half-a-dialogue with another discipline, the preponderance of Jane Austen recognizes an identity given more than embraced, and the always-enthroned Theo-Drama is the only manifestation of bibliophile excess, indulged in during weaker [or perhaps stronger] moments.

As I pull them out, looking for the few lost coins in their ranks, I feel a certain calm arising with the scent of cardboard. Even as I tote around my small rag-tag ersatz reading-list library this summer,I have missed being surrounded by these books—the books of ownership, the books of past and future, and not just present. These are the little dog-eared guideposts that remind me of where I have been. The codex is a nifty mnemonic devices not just for recalling its own paginated contents but for recalling us to the self we left within it. And the perpetually unread books, the still half-finished, and the newest, freshest acquisitions promise that this journey of learning—of absorbing new ideas, of constant conversion of one's life to beauty glimpsed outside of it in page and person—has unbroken continuity and is at least three full shelves or two cardboard boxes—pressed down, shaken together, and running over—from over.

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