Monday, 18 October 2010

Sunday 17th October: Libraries part one

As I needed to do some work on a project, I went, as I did yesterday, to the library on the campus after finishing my blog (and, granted, some iPlayer). It always seems to be easier to actually get work done while you're out of the house, even though I'm still carrying the main problem (a laptop) with me. I really enjoy working in this library, partly because it reminds me of the library I used to frequent as a child which was decorated in the same style (i.e. wood, brick and brownish grey carpets. I'm a master of description as you can see...). I like libraries as a whole, and if everything goes wrong, I might end up working in one someday. Although I never excelled at the being quiet-bit. I mainly like them for the same reasons everyone else likes them: because all other people are quiet. They're a great way of pretending to be around people in the outside world while actually being very anti-social. Plus, again, you get some work done.

But libraries are more than a way for me to get work done, they're refuges, places of quiet in confusing big cities. When I was in Edinburgh the last two years, I liked to go to the library on the South Bridge (correct me if I'm wrong, but the one just off the Royal Mile) and just walk around and browse. It's the only way to get away from overly aggressive mime-artists and expressionist modern dancers in the street.

Libraries are also the last bastions of those quixotics trying to make sense of the world by dividing it up and naming things. Yes, genres. Every book in the library has its place, it's there for a reason. It knows why it is there. But only larger libraries can afford to place specific genres on say, a specific floor. Every smaller one has to compromise. In Edinburgh for instance, the left side of the building was devoted to Travel, History and Politics, signified by a small plaque. One can understand this system, for these three tend to overlap.

It can also go awry; in the same library, another bookcase was called: Bibliography, Cookery, Militaria. Why? Who on earth would write a book combining the three of those? Only if Jamie Oliver went to war against Gordon Ramsay in an all-out, book-based melee of kitchen knives and swear words. Luckily for us, that day might never come.

It can get worse though. In a small library in Holland, I saw on one and the same shelf: Thriller, Biography and Horses.
Since when is Horses a literary genre? Can it be taught? Do people write books with Horse-based notions and conventions in mind to try and subvert Horse-based books in a Post-Horse way? Can you write about anything else than the Pony Express? What about My Little Pony? Is that Horse-based literature or Science-Horse? If so much literature has been written about horses, isn't it unfair that they themselves never have the chance to read it? We must do something about the representation of horses in literature!

Ok, that's enough now.

And what about zebras?

Shut up.

In the end, I had a great time at the library, and I will go there again someday, probably.

I'm bored now. Bye!

Today, Jorik also fell asleep over a (really very good) documentary on Chopin on iPlayer. It features a smug young pianist (who's actually 34 and an ex-city boy, so not young at all!), a great Russo-Welsh singer and lots of French people speaking English not very well. And he loved it to bits. But it was also very late. So he finished it the next morning before breakfast. It reminded him of tiny picture books his Suzuki Piano teacher used to have that told the story of great composers in a patronising way with beautiful watercoloured pictures. Nice!

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