Hermits Rock

Go to content Go to navigation

packing my library, redux

so, the toughest thing about packing the library has been and continues to be deciding what books to put away for this period of possibly four months. what books that i’ve already read but would want to consult and/or read again, and what books that i haven’t read but, hoping against hope that i will have enough time to read them, plan to read?

as it is, the months of may, june, and july i will be little more than a kept man, more a mr. mom watching the two kids till the house sells. (and i’m afraid we’ve over priced; but then again, this is the in-town market, we are close to truly funky bar-scene, a truly bo-bo scene, and the zoo, what more could you want. and, the market here is street by street, house by house.)

already, i’ve needed a book i’ve packed. already, i’ve wanted a book i’ve packed. already, i’ve lent two books that almost got packed three times.

in a related matter, i’ve got about 50% of derrida’s published/translated ouvre. much of it (especially of grammatology, writing and difference, and margins of philosophy, i have read multiple times, underlined, and totally forgotten. some of it, like glas i’ve merely glanced at. other of it, like dissemination, i’ve started, and stopped, and skipped through. the various smaller texts, when he was too big to wait and put a book together and the frenchies too desparate to translate his essays and get tenure, i also have and it has experienced the same fate as all those above.) i have kept it all these years, along with a smattering of deconstructive theology books, some read and read well, some not even opened, thinking i’ll get back to this some day. but, at least, in my current version i am more a literary historian than a literary philosopher/critic/poser. however, this move to a small liberal arts institution opens a whole range of possibilities for me. but, will i ever go back and read the guy?

do i pack the derrida or sell him off to barely lighten the load of books to be taken north, to hatfield m’coy country?



Other than in Semiotext(e), Is there even a market for deconstruction anymore?

i know… i know…

well, comp lit is still clutching derrida with their whitened arthritic fingers.

worse are the four de man books… though de man was a good reader, at times.

Anyway, I have a small volume of D’s lectures, Of Cosmopolitanism & Forgiveness; I have meant for years to read the second lecture, but never done it yet. I also acquired a reader, but I have never cracked it.

Why sell? Is the collection really that burdensome? You never know when it might come in handy.

B has been struggling with throwing away some booklets given to her years ago during her first weeks at Oxford. They were from a rather conservative Muslim student society. She didn’t think about it; during those first few weeks everyone is shoving booklets into your hand. Now, they’re crowding her bookshelves and she wants to get rid of them. However, since they contain some Quranic verses written in Arabic, she can’t bring herself to put them in a trash can. Whenever she thinks about it, she bitterly complains that those people have sentenced her to a lifetime of dragging their books around.

I bet they planned that.

Actually that wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

why can’t she take them to oxfam or something?
then again, i was about to advise bg not to throw out the derrida.

They wouldn’t take them. Every business, institution, and domicile has an assigned rubbish quota. If this is exceeded, there is a fine. Or they simply don’t take the excess. For this reason, charities in the UK are much pickier about what they accept.

you never know when you might need them, that, indeed, is the justification for keeping them. plus, they get totally lost in my 1,300+ volume library.

then again, if i could purge the library of 50 volumes, i’d be down to 1,250+ and that’s 4 boxes of books that i won’t have to lug up to the bluegrass region.

re: the death of deconstruction… you’ve no idea how long ideas linger. just now in my current institution the english people are fighting the theory wars (20 years too late, but there you go) and in the one to which i am headed, the undergrads are being taught courses which feature the french master himself or the gender critic variations of him.

Speaking of, here is a brief interview with M.H. Abrams discussing his place in the history of criticism:

“I’ve been skeptical from the beginning of attempts to show that for hundreds of years people have missed the real point,” his chief quarrel with contemporary theory. While affable, Abrams doesn’t shy from debate, even with his former student, Harold Bloom, saying, “I enjoy a good intellectual fight, with somebody I disagree with, about what seem to be fundamental matters.”

yeah, i saw that..


you would think that, in the age of mechanical reproduction, the imams would get together and include a waiver for koranic verses that are cheaply mass produced, or forbid such reproduction