Saturday, December 11, 2004

Footprints of Philosophers


I was skimming an overdue library book this morning prior to returning it, and noticed etched in pencil around the right-hand margin "how to not what to". That was indeed one of the themes of the paragraph, but not what I would have classed the major point.

Nonetheless, I thought it was quite characterful to see what a past student had thought. While I'm not condoning scribbling into library books - an uncouth practise - I can imagine it might be quite pleasant to read the unpolished and un-edited annals of a book's academic history of use. I can imagine a blog from the point of view of this particular text...

"... ah, my new home. My pages are fresh as a virgin olive, my ink strong and that colour of my pages vibrant. "

"Thumbed over by the staff today... weather continues fine"

"A third-year student picked me up today. It was a pleasure to be read again, especially so carefully and thoughtfully. Judging by the initial margin notes, I was worried that I was being subjected to a superficial reading, but subsequent entries demonstrated a good progression of thought"

"It has been years since coming to this place, it has changed much. Last year, the shelves were re-organised such that now I have a view out the window. More students read me this way, as I am in a more aesthetically pleasing position"

"Overdue. Again!."

On a more serious note, one of the pleasures of philosophy is the feeling that you are engaged with the author, almost in dialogue. Quotes are layered upon quotes, and the best authors speak as much now to the topic as they ever did. The margin notes simply added to that feeling of connectedness, that somehow time does not hold any sway over the continuing exploration of these ideas. This community still remembers its past members.


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