August 21, 2003

Hung over

I feel a little draggy today from the over-stimulation yesterday. Spent a lot of time working on the "de-nazification" process - removing the decals and insignias and jackets of the corporate library. I also began to address shelf-space issues by rooting out the books I think I can do without, at least in the book room.

Speaking of overstimulation, I recall one home librarian who installed curtains over his bookshelves so that he could read in his library without the cacophony of voices calling to him (in the form of the garish modern day dust covers). He marvels at how restful the books of the 18th century look, with their muted browns and reds and blues. Books today need to stand out in order to sell, and so they do. The 18th & 19th centuries did it right, no?

Given my love for melodrama, the decline and fall of the corporate library (in terms of its sale of all non-business related items) feels like fodder for indulging that side... And so I wrote:
Marilyn vos Savant, author of the "Ask Marilyn" column in Parade magazine and known for her exceptionally high IQ, was once asked what is the single thing we can do to improve our brain power. She advised the questionner to read a novel of some complexity - an opportunity once provided as a corporate benefit, a benefit that bespoke a civilized company. But now the Visigoths have come.

The library was a symbol - a chivalric nodding of the head to the liberal arts - of our inheritance from preceeding generations. I know not what rough beast, its hour come round at last, that slouches towards us with budgetary panic writ upon its face. But I am saddened that the library, which stood athwart the fortress of ignorance yelling "Stop!" is now defunct. As Shakespeare wrote: "Sir, those cold ways that seem like prudent helps, are very poisonous."

Completely unrelated, (blogging means never having to have a segue): Camassia, a pyschology major, weighs in with an interesting post on the Myers--Briggs types. She's right that Tom of Disputations fame is the pluperfect INTP. I like to think I have too much of a sense of humor to fit in with the typical ISTJs*, plus I can't decide if I'm all that decisive. Doing things the way they've always been done can be a form of laziness, something I've never denied having, rather than an anal-retentive brand of conservatism.** But my streak of Irish fatalism/pessimism is such that I can relate to St. Thomas the Apostle: "When told that Lazarus had died, Thomas said, "Let us go and die with him." (He could just as well have said something like, "I knew this was bound to happen sooner or later.")

* - Thomas (Christ's disciple), George Washington, Andrew Johnson, Benjamin Harrison, Herbert Hoover, George H. W. Bush, Paul Coverdale (U.S. Senator, R-GA), Jack Webb (Joe Friday). God love them all, but not much fun at a party.

** -One of the things I so adore about uber-conservative Russell Kirk was his ability to merge mysticism with practicality - to be simultaneously a dreamer (normally a left-wing characteristic) and a realist. He once said that conservatism is an "openness to reality...including transcendental reality".

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