The other day I went to interview for a new position. I could tell that she, the head of the agency, was making up the questions as she went along. The regular script was only a shadow presence; she preferred to extemporize. She referred to herself as the “Empress of all Chaos”, said that she would by now have won all the awards/prizes/medals in Chaotics if such things actually existed. It was indeed an enigmatic interview. Followed up, just a day later by try-outs.
Immediately I was asked to write a press-release, which just a few hours later was presented to the most important client – what speed! There are those people who just talk about getting people involved and there are those who actually do it. And there are those, let me not even be so cute as to pretend to be naive, who fall somewhere in-between.
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In regards to books, things have gotten a lot worse lately. I had been able, by discipline and the rigorous application of my admittedly lmtd cognitive abilities, to tune my parallel-reading bandwidth down to three books: The Savage Detectives, Reassembling the Social and Surface Detail [more or less]. But I think my mind grew restless or the books [2 novels, 1 re-boot of conventional sociology] did not manage to cover the sprawling, distractive spectrum of my fervent curiosity. At any rate, I fell back into my old habit, actually really almost hobby, of “surfing [the] Amazon” for books that I will have to buy. Excellent Books that I want to add to my burgeoning library, not because I will be able to immediately enjoy them by way of reading [I estimate I am about 15-20 books behind, compared to the number I own, which is not much] but because I NEED to have them. This need is supposed to be one of the psychological manifestations of bibliophilia but I’m not convinced. In my imagination, in my vision of the future, I will be able to read this book and it is this Vorfreude, which gives pleasure to actually possessing them. That and being able, at a whim, to begin reading them even before they move, slowly, slowly, to the number one spot of my life-long reading-list. This is where I transmute into a “bibliolope”, a reader who avidly leaps between different novels, articles and stories, all the more so if s/he happens to use an e-reader. And thus, in my case, the parallel-reading bandwidth has re-expanded back to approximately ten, which should really be the upper limit if I am serious about what I am reading. Pride of place/time is taken by: Humboldt’s Gift, The Broom of the System, Surface Detail, Pandora’s Hope [which I hope to be more concrete than “Reassembling the Social”], The Book of Disquiet and The Savage Detectives.
Writing of TSD, it has stoked my interest in an activity I am unlikely to ever carry out: stealing books. He writes about it plenty: young, excitable, dead-broke Mexican poets doing anything to lay their hands on this or that collection of poetry, reciting obscure French poets and ultimately themselves attempting to pen a few luminous lines. I have never like poetry but the idea, the pure Platonic ideal, of stealing a book is exciting. I have neither the heart nor hands nor financial desperation to go through with it but I certainly like to imagine it. Especially at the ZH ZB with its vast lair of subterranean stacks, two or three floors down into the earth. There are magnetic strips worked into the spines of the books, which are for the absolutely most part hard-backs. One [I] would have to take with a box cutter [Japanese knife, carpet cutter], take the desired book to a deep, remote corner, quickly yet carefully excise that hard piece of carton/canvas and then, in a flourish of 100% balls, tuck it under one’s arm together with a laptop, walk out through the electromagnetic scanner and flash the security person a friendly, untroubled smile. I could never pull it off, I would sweat coldly from the hands, botch the cutting, drop the volume so security could immediately smell what’s cooking or, at the last moment, choke and not even make the first move. But the thought of it, how thrilling: to steal a book! The way Bolano [as opposed to U. Eco] writes about it I cannot help but coming away with the feeling that its intrinsically noble, even though I am no proletarian poet from Chile. Instead of letting it rot on a forgotten shelf, I rescue it for my infinite appreciation. A romantic illusion, a vainglorious folly: thousands can read, appreciate and come to love that book. That’s what libraries are there for.
No, it would have to be a mammoth bookstore chain where books are [almost though ultimately unsuccessfully] reduced to simulacra. I do not really believe in such an object as simulacra, outside of pure theory, but the existence of the concept is nightmarish enough: that something could be copied so many times until there are numberless clones but no recognizable master-copy. At any rate, that [Barnes&Noble, Orrell-Fuessli, Borders, etc] is where I would have to perform the GTL, Grand Theft Literature for it to be in any way meaningful within the imagination-depleted matrix of a capitalist bookstore economy.