On yesterday’s visit to garner some domestic logistics I found myself drawn, as is quite natural for me, to a local bookstore. Rapidly yet calmly and with apposite politeness I navigated my way to the psychology and philosophy section, just next to popular science and astronomy.
I tend to treat the pages of these books with something approaching a profound reverence and spiritual awe. Ever so gently drawing each item of interest from its temporary, commercial home – scanning titles, dates of publication and tables of contents, respectively, I handle hard copy knowledge with a tenderness and care that resembles that of an intimate friendship or nurturing lover.
There is so much knowledge, so many perspectives, such a vast and ultimately unknowable ocean of words and ideas that it all quite literally (and as treasured literature) overwhelms me. I have to restrain myself from taking these epistemological orphans and crucibles of wisdom home with me – the overpopulated bookshelves of my home are already far beyond capacity.
When encountering rows and stacks of variously interesting or masterfully-compiled books in this way I often feel an emotional sting that plants in garden centres and animals in pet shelters also cultivate within me. It is as though there is some hidden life or delicate genetic code that lives here and that depends on me for life, sustenance and freedom.
Leaving bookstores is always like a little slice of death and act of forgetting for me. I can no more set these beautiful patterns of living information free than I myself can ever acquire authentic emancipation but, perhaps, it is in knowing the shape of impossibility that I come to understand just what it could have been.