8 posts tagged borges
8 posts tagged borges
Many years ago, when I first started college, I’d come into the still-unknown city on the weekend sometimes to visit a childhood friend. One visit I remember, it was raining and I was wandering around, probably lost, and ducked into the NYU bookstore. I found Borges and pulled Labyrinths off, vaguely aware that it was a book I should read and would love. I opened to this page, read until my friend called me, put the book back on the shelf. Somehow I vividly remember this—the corner I stood in, the umbrella between my feet, the shiny mirrored cover, that feeling of sitting in a quiet mahogany office and not that cluttered small store off Washington Square. I didn’t pick Labyrinths back up for another couple years, when I finally devoted an entire weekend to it, sitting in Central Park, middle of summer, overhot and coming off a month of not reading anything. This book grabbed me, demanded an instant reread, managed to burrow itself back into my reading history so it became as if I’d first read it when I was ten, again when I was eleven, every year until that summer, so that the real first time was actually like the tenth or eleventh read. Like Borges was inherent.
When a consumer encounters marginalia in a used book, it has the potential to change one’s perception of a book’s value. Cathy Marshall, a Microsoft researcher, found that university students evaluated textbooks before purchasing so that they can bring home the book with the smartest notes.
Reminded me of Andrei Codrescu on the Kindle:
I don’t know about you, but I always hated underlined passages in used books. They derail my private enjoyment….When somebody offers perception of what’s important, something moronic, usually…And this thing on my Kindle…something called view popular highlights, which will tell you how many morons have underlined before so that not only you do not own the new book you paid for, the entire experience of reading is shattered by the presence of a mob that agitates inside your text like strangers in a train station.
Of course, if the people making the marks mean something to you, reading a marked-up book can be a wonderful experience.
From “Marginalia” by Billy Collins:
Yet the one I think of most often,
the one that dangles from me like a locket,
was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
I borrowed from the local library
one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then,
reading books on a davenport in my parents’ living room,
and I cannot tell you
how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
when I found on one page
A few greasy looking smears
and next to them, written in soft pencil-
by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
whom I would never meet-
“Pardon the egg salad stains, but I’m in love.”
Free, legal audio of Collins reading it here.
- David Quigg, 4/28/2011
sorry to add to this already long and thoughtful commentary! but, it made me think of my favorite found bit, from a hardcover copy of Borges’ The Book of Imaginary Beings (which is already so great):
I’m not sure it’s strictly marginalia, since it’s on an inside cover rather than on a page, and it doesn’t make strict sense, but still. I love it.
Reblogged from writewritewriteon
Borges, in his essay “An Investigation of the Word” in On Writing.
I love that I flip this book open to any random page and oh, hey, brilliance.
“Milton and Borges managed; my newly blind dog will, too, then.”
(but maybe kind of?) (no, no.) (well, she will manage, but not because two writers did once too.)