Thursday, July 13, 2006

Borders and Archives (Jan 2006)

Borders. I love Borders. I planned to stay at the Not-so-Glorious Gloria Jeans and peck on my laptop (hoping the hotspot in the City is functional - nope!) Instead I ended stacking up a whole load of books, and then going through the heart-wrenching decisions of which to take home and which to postpone. In the end, Foucault’s Archeology of Knowledge won, together with Spencer's The Myth of Tolerance (you know where), an introduction to Sociolinguistics and a book by a number of "Western Muslim Scholars" (some new species that is) about fundamentalism. This last one will add to my Pelgrave's anthology on Jihad , Mamdani's "Good Muslim, Bad Muslim", and the classic Islam and the West that I bought for myself before Xmas.
When I am in this book-buying mode, it takes a truck to stop me. So, after filling myself with beans (literally) I asked Dan, who was already lugging my laptop and books purchased in Borders, if she would mind walking with me to Archives. I had an ulterior motive, as the linguistics section in Archives is 2.5 meters above ground and I am not the ladder-climbing type. I was there twice in the past month, and at both times I could not even see the titles. I knew chocolate was up there, but I couldn’t get to it. Dan is an athlete and taller than me, so although she is not into language books, she is the best choice of partner if you want to get any from Archives.
When you walk into the semi-dark coolness of Archives you leave your belongings at the reception. As my Borders bag was ferried across the oak table, there was a hint of reproach in the eyes of the Irish-accent-a-hell-of-a-good-looking-lassie who runs the place. I jokingly apologized for my extra-marital affairs. Last time I was there I bought so many books that they had to order me a taxi.
Minutes after Dan parked the ladder and climbed up, I was a hair's breadth away from being a disabled linguist. While trying to hold onto the ladder, read titles 20 cm above her line of vision without ending up on the opposite shelf AND pull out books for me, Dan dropped a hardcover Eisler just millimeters from my cranium. What Eisler’s The Chalice and the Blade was doing amidst books on linguistics beats me, but regardless of their weird cataloging system Archives are much better organized than Bob Gould in Newtown, Sydney. There it is a matter of diving into the sea of paper – forget about finding a SPECIFIC BOOK. Even Bob doesn’t know what he has, or where. It is a matter of serendipity. And one can get killed by books at Gould’s without having to climb ladders, because they are stacked atop each other.
Now the Eisler is safely on my personal bookshelf, and so are ten other books whose titles would be too mundane for the general public to mention here.
There are two people that I will make rich when I win the Lotto: the Irish chick from Archives and Sean from Bent Books. Well, and maybe that grumpy but very helpful old chap from Melanie up the coast who located a rare Kazantakis for me, phoned and posted it to me so that I would not have to drive for three hours.

Bookfest is coming. Only 30 more sleeps.

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