The more I look at the books crowding my shelves, the more I think of them as books spawning other books, endlessly. Like the zebra clams, where one clam can propagate thousands. One book, one word, can lead to countless other words, countless other books, which in turn multiply. So I look at you, my books, and say do I want to keep you or wouldn’t it be better to let someone else read you? Have you already served your purpose? “Quite true” you tell me, “aren’t you doing the same thing, multiplying, breeding new pages for others to read or not to read. The children we beget, we bring into the world, some will leave a mark on others, some will simply sink back into oblivion.”
So what do I do with you, shelves full of my books?
I could shrug off some of you, deemed not as important for me, on Nancy who says she needs books for her apartment. “Now tell me, Nancy, what do you need them for? Will you be reading them? Are they simply to be part of the décor? “Then I can lend some of you, knowing I will eventually get you back.
Some of you are books I have never read, or don’t remember reading. Some of you are important because of who gave you to me. Take Hunting with the Fox (Toulouse Lautrec). I treasure you because Leo saw you somewhere and thought of me. Of course he also gave me his The Sexuality of Christ or The Incessant Last Supper, in which he weighed every word before he wrote it.
And you, Borges, true I find you fascinating and have a collection of your works, given me by my musician friend (computer music which is I’m afraid not my genre). Your love and knowledge of roses is phenomenal though, and you, dear friend, are the only person who will tell me that the color of the scarf I’m wearing becomes me. You’ve introduced me to John Cage and Stockhausen although try as I might I cannot warm to them. Nor will I ever understand the twelve tone system – and do you know that you have never offered me a cup of coffee?” Books then – well you are like colors or a scene in that you trigger memories.”
So I had better try and put some order into those shelves. Yes, I’m still involved with books. With human beings who need an excuse to put words together. Words – books –people. Eliminating one can be an attempt to eliminate the other. By burning books they thought they were destroying a people’s memory, in a sense their soul. Then there was the holocaust and people were eliminated. Some but not all. People and words are inseparable. Words outlast those who created them. Where is Shakespeare now? Where is Virgil and Cicero? They are there in their words. Words can have audible form, but also visible form.