Sunday, November 16, 2003

A Good Word

There's been a recent discussion on and across several blogs I read about acquisitiveness, both literal and informational.

Kurt's mention of the "reading eight books at a time" phenomenon certainly hit home. It reminded me of another recent blog discussion of what books one would grab and flee with in time of war. Some bloggers posted a digital photo of their pile of chosen books.

I discovered this discussion on Joseph Duemer's site, and, after scouring the titles in his photo, had to send off immediately for Barnstone's translations of Wang Wei, which now resides in my pile of "formerly seven now eight books at at time that I am reading."

And, to top that bit of consummated acquisitiveness, I began to hanker after a digital camera so I might post my own photos. Is there no end to desire ? My inner Puritan and inner cheapskate can probably hold the camera at bay. But book lust is a different animal.

Somehow book greed seems less evil. But is it ?

Take the Amazon wish list. I have one. And it pisses me off when the Amazon home page, which, like so much other marketing text, is creepily personalized, waves one of my selections in my face and hisses "You know you want it." Does that strike any one else as lewd ?

Book greed is probably less evil than wanting a new Benz SUV every year, or gold bathroom fixtures, or a half dozen Rolexes.

The truth of it is that I simply can't read eight books at once. I'm sure some people can. But my own "reading eight at once" often devolves to flitting from one to the other in a state of distraction, and reading none of them well, or even at all.

Shall we post photos of our piles of the "eight books we're reading at once" ?

Western History/Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library

Then there are all the other sources of information that Kurt lists -- NPR, BBC, newspaper, internet news, blogs, the movies, netflix, TV, magazines, professional journals -- the list goes on. And then there's music. A whole other universe of, if not information, how shall we put this, important aesthetic input that unscrolls in time.

Because time factors into the dilemma.

I've been, because of a thankfully minor fracture of my second cervical vertebra (in an accident instigated by a driver "distracted" by his cell phone, speaking of failed multi-tasking) been out of work since September 27. My whole sense of time, previously regulated by the hours spent at work, has been altered. I've certainly had more time to read, and am chagrined at how inefficiently I've used it. Maybe having less time forces one to focus more, to spend it more wisely.

Cassandra's words on cleaning out the house and paring down also, literally, hit home. Both DK and I have had, quite recently, elderly relatives who have moved into small, assisted-living quarters. From larger houses crammed with a lifetime of things. The sheer accumulations were frightening to contemplate. The mementos, the bibelots, the knick-knacks, the souvenirs. My Auntie, wisely, ruefully, shook her head and asked "Why did I ever think I needed all those things ?"

To cheat memory, time and death ? We all know how well that project turns out.

My excellent, witty and eloquent (read down to the "diamond of a novella" part) friend, GG, gave me a most wonderful word this week. Syllogomania.

It means "the hoarding of rubbish."

Good word, eh ?

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