i am a frequent borrower at my local library. there's this brilliant service (bibliotek.dk) where you can order books from any library in the country and they send them to your local library. when they come, you get an SMS and then you pick them up and read them. i'm always ordering strange and esoteric things like postmodern theory from the mid-90s, books about early soviet textiles or artists that were popular in the 50s or else the entire collected works of whoever has just won the nobel prize for literature. as one of the librarians said today, "you're really out in the corners."
i laughed when she said it, because it really is true. but of course, i had to think about it afterwards as well. what does it really mean to be out in the corners? i hasten to say that it was said and meant in a kind way and was not at all an insult. we were laughing because very often when i go to check out my reserved books, the self-service machine won't allow me to do it - it always wants some other number or says that the book doesn't exist in the system or some such error. this means i very often have to go to the desk and have someone help me. in this way, i've gotten to know all of the library personnel very well. which is how the "you're really out in the corners" comment came about.
i took it as another way of saying off the beaten path. when i look for my books on the reserved shelves, i see a lot of self-help, how-to books, cookbooks, contemporary crime novels (i do order my share of those at times) and those infernal 50 shades books. those are all on the beaten path, down the middle, ordinary. today i picked up the tom phillips book (he's the artist who did the humument altered book i told you about a few days ago). at the same time i returned slavoj zizek's latest tome, less than nothing: hegel and the shadow of dialetical materialism. i'll admit i only read a couple of chapters of it, not the whole thing. i go for such a book occasionally to exercise my brain (this was, i will say, one of the more lucid zizek since sublime object of ideology) and to remind me of the thrills i found in grad school. but of late, i've also been reading douglas kennedy novels, which aren't exactly lacanian marxism.
which leads me to another aspect of what it might mean to read out in the corners - to read broadly, all over the spectrum, thoroughly in some sense, covering all the bases. i like that idea too. i read a lot and i love reading. i can't go to sleep at night without it. sometimes i want to read to relax. sometimes to think and be challenged. sometimes to help me figure out what my opinion is. sometimes to enlighten. sometimes to learn. sometimes just to be entertained. sometimes to get lost. reading can give you so many different experiences and feelings - the whole spectrum, really. and i guess that's what it really means to be out in the corners.
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how charming are these diving pigs?