Jun 2, 2015

Shelf Conversations: Error. Crises.

It's the appropriate place for an error, one would think. They give you something to erase the pencil marks. Much easier. The lessons continue later and later. They don't give you anything though. The classes are ever more difficult to comprehend.
The Coup says nothing, observing the passing day.
The enthusiasm of his neighbour is grating ever so slightly.
"Would you like to borrow an eraser?" asks the Errors in School.
After an awkward silence comes the rather abrupt reply.
"Should I make a mistake I will be sure to let you know."


Shelf Conversations: Addiction and a Certain British Upper Lip

"The powder was dissolved in alcohol." the Eater explained. "All relatively dismal in hindsight."
"Quite" came the sharp reply from the left. "Would you excuse me I'm trying to rest my eyes. That time of day you see."
The Eater continued "Yes, that time of day indeed. Everybody has a vice, Old Chap."
A quick response again "Rest is not a vice. You cannot dissolve it in anything."

Shelf Conversations: Economics and Eden

"Not much space here I'm afraid." whispered Eden "What is it that you do exactly?"
"I balance" the Economics bellowed. "And yourself?"
Eden paused and had to think.
"Something nice, maybe, I'm on my way somewhere" Eden beamed.
"You seem to be relatively still, do you know where you're going?" Economics asked furrowing and feigning.
"Somewhere." replied Eden. "Somewhere."

Shelf Conversations: Dispute and Invention

A draft, design, an independent throne. Where did the modern start? Has this already been done once before. One really couldn't tell.
Modern Rome exclaimed "The aqueduct! The aqueduct!"
"And water makes the Modern capable" replied the Heaps "We know the aqueduct well enough."

Shelf Conversation: Simple Things and Hope

The Peripheral in red gazed longingly at his neighbour. 
"Some simple things becoming precious." he smiled. "Soon enough one might wonder at your name"
Utopia replied."The simple things, the complexity, and everything in between. A fiction and yet a hope. My name is everywhere."

Shelf Conversation: Thermodynamic Fiction

Liaisons leaned away. His red clothed friend remained upright and alert.
"It's really rather hot here. I'm not sure that they should have sat us here." A sigh. "I may asked the conductor if I might move."

Shelf Conversation: Difficulties and Device

Two pressed together by relativity and religion. One on the left, reserved and waiting for the other to speak first. The other to the right so confident and well rehearsed. A rather fitting match then.

Device begins, quickly offering a thought about the steady weather and assistance should the Faculties feel a chill.

Faculties is not one for words today and with a sigh contends "The temperature is fine enough, I'm not sure that you have a blanket to offer."

Shelf Conversation: The Language in Bloom

Whispering, remembering a quiet path. Two friends might walk and share a word or two. Further down the path, a nettle maybe catching at the skin. The pain is just enough to demonstrate the consequence of a daydream, wandering, not watching where you tread. Wild justice for the petals that we tread beneath or feet.

"The buzzing bee, the breeze, I'm sure they find humour in each other and speak when human steps depart." Said the left.
"The breeze will take a summer hat and send it tumbling ahead. Then the bees and flowers laugh at these strange visitors." Said the right.

Shelf Conversation: Nietzsche and Baudelaire

A quiet conversation about decadence.The Idols and the Le Spleen. There is much to agree upon here.  The fine fabric of Paris is a veil, the struggle to identify a truth and somewhere in our pages we find each other. And yet the philosopher is not gentle in his persuasion. 
"A cold sarcasm against beautiful words", said the Nietzsche to the left. 
"The faint notes of an exquisite taste" said Baudelaire to the right, gazing across the aisle.

Yet each have enough consideration for humanity to lend a few words.

Feb 14, 2015

Blumfield Township Library

Blumfield, our Blumfield, the one with the Township Library, is located in Michigan. It is not to be confused with Bloomfield where my Australian cousin Barbara lives, who is just over for a short visit from her Northern Queensland Bloomfield, not too far from Cooktown, her Bloomfield having two "O"s and crocodiles and is, so she tells us, generally wet and warm and tropical. But the confusing similarity of Blum and Bloom made our find in Panorama City so exciting and so intriguing.

Blumfield Township (Michigan) was a small community of German emigrants who left their fatherland after the failure of the March Revolution in 1848. They have been called the Forty-Eighters and some say they had a certain influence on the development of the American Civil war and the Anti-Slavery movement.

"Bibliothek des Township Blumfield / Dieses Buch ist an den Director des Schul districts zurueckzuliefern am letzten Samstag eines jeden Monats. Der Empfaenger ist verantwortlich fuer jeden dem Buche zugefuegten Schaden waehrend er es in seinem besitze hat." 

Some Forty-Eighters made Blumfield their new home. Books furnish a home, libraries furnish a community. Those who founded a township in Michigan and gave it a German name, they would not leave their books behind. Because a community without a library is nothing, and a German community without German books is even less. The director of the school district serves as librarian, this makes it comparable to a school library. The books are intended to educate their children. They brought them to what was to become Blumfield and created a library. Today, nothing is left of this library except a few books which display this bookplate. A pretty strict regime of care and return transpires from the wording:

Library of the Township Blumfield / This book is to be returned to the director of the school district on the last Saturday of each month. The recipient is responsible for any damage done to the book while it is in his possession.

The German wording (Spechen Sie deutsch?) produces some anxiety, because the language already shows clear traces of Englification, it is already a little rusty and musty, not least because the printer works without Umlaute, there is talk of district and Township. On the other hand, the bookbinder in Detroit, who attaches his own label to the inside back cover, prints some English that has, to my ear, a distinct German ring: Bookbindery == Buchbinderei. (Buchbinder Saenger (Sanger) is listed in Detroit address books for 1855 and 1876)

Bookbindery by Ernst C Saenger, No 120 Fort Street, between Antoine and Hasting Str. All Orders Prompty Executed 

Library labels and bookbinder tickets are sweet little fellows. I was drawn to this book by the bright yellow labels. I considered removing them from this book and insert them into an album of similar ephemera. But a closer look taught me better: This book and its labels belong together and tell a story of emigration, of political and philosophical culture, of radical education and "bookbindery" in Michigan around 1860. In its pages the book provides a famous academic polemic about Christianity and science. K√∂hlerglaube und Wissenschaft. Eine Streitschrift gegen Hofrath Rudolph Wagner in G√∂ttingen. Carl Vogt, scientists and politician who engaged with Marx and Darwin, presents in its pages a radical materialist vision, according to which the brain excretes thoughts in much the same way in which the kidneys excrete urine. You would be hard pressed to find a book more incompatible with the tradition of Christian education decorated with library marking which points to a scholastic use. Materialist double strength poison approaching a school library somewhere in rural Michigan, that seems pretty remarkable. The book, with all its labels, which document its travels and the hopes which were placed in it a long time ago, is for sale on our website and offers a rare opportunity to hold in your hands the original object that once brought German radical thinking to the shores of Lake Huron and further afield.

Jan 16, 2015

Farewell E-Reader

A consideration appeared in the Cambridge Evening News this week. Falling sales of the E-Reader, rising sales of the book. We were asked our thoughts and gladly answered.