Do you pick up stray books? If you saw a book unaccompanied on a bus, lonely, lost, would you take it home or would you hand it in?
Rajat Singh talks about “books out of place” in The Millions this week. The obsession with picking up good books that need a home is familiar to all of us, while it’s possible to leave a second hand bookshop without what you want exactly (because the good book is safe there), it’s very hard to leave a jumble sale, a market, or a general second hand store. Rajat associates this kind of yearning to make these homeless books safe by ordering them in some kind of system of his own devising, freeing them from a library sale or from the jumble of the sidewalk seller.
The Old English word “dustsceawung” means, literally, “a contemplation of dust.” It’s an understanding not of what’s been lost, or the transience of things, but of how the past persists in the present. To consider dust, however, is also to consider the work left to do with things that impinge on us. Dust collects because I haven’t circulated in a book’s ideas, or had a chance to let their words inhabit me.
As someone who has not had a more advanced ordering system in the last decade beyond read vs not read in piles and on shelves, I still feel like I am saving books, but not from disorder, more like into it. From world with it’s conventions and expectations, and into an interior where I’ll put no pressure on them besides occasioanally picking up for reference or one good read.
An empire of dirt needs a caretaker.
Have some Danez Smith for the rest of the weekend:
It’s a bit messy and all over the place, and I think that’s why I like it.
Thanks for reading Etch To Their Own #43. It’s me, @CJEggett, whom writes these words for you, whether you really want them or not. Please read my great dream tweet, and my follow up: is that a crow circling my lightbulb. I might manage to make some progress on this, this week, it’s very pretty. As are you, for reading these words — I treasure every moment you burn out your retinas on my slob-handed typos ❤