Friday, November 13, 2009

Officially overwhelmed

And I thought it was bad, yesterday!

To my right:

To my left:

It's not just a spatial problem--but a temporal one as well.

Everything is from the past. A past I'm not sure is even relevant to my present, let alone my future. I'd like to think the kids will be as interested in the Descartes, Hume, Plato and Wittgenstein as I was--but it's doubtful. I will make them read some of it--Aristotle and Plato for sure--but I can't think it all through right now. And, I feel I need to, of course, in order to decide what stays and what goes.

I have been muttering, "Space represents the future. There's no room for the future unless we make room for it. We must have space!" But that's not entirely true, is it? A lot of the future is already with us: that's why it's hard to let go.

Sorry for the rant. I think I need to go look at some Scandinavian Home blogs.


drwende said...

Descartes, Hume, Plato, and Wittgenstein are all out of copyright in at least some translations/editions, so when your kids are old enough for those philosophers, they'll be able to read them free online or get cheap electronic editions. No need to store physical books, which will continue to deteriorate during that time.

Kerry said...

When I was faced with cleaning out my house, I had to come to a bunch of realizations.

1) No one ever elected me archivist for the world. If they had, where was my budget and staff to do it?

2)Barring a horrible illness, bout of unemployment, or other problems you wouldn't wish on yourself, when was I going to have the time to read all this? And was it worth keeping it as a just in case?

3) It's one thing to keep things that mean a lot to me (a series of books that were my mom's that I kept, other books and things) but keeping things that kept reminding me of the person I was that I didn't like, or wanted to be but couldn't, or thought I should be--it was draining and unproductive.

4) I don't have kids. I may not have children of my own, and anyway, the world is changing. Things will be different for them and different stories will have meaning to them. I can't predict that.

I had a lot of books. I was a librarian after all. And a bit of a hoarder. And truthfully it was a multi-year process to go through it all.

And if it helps, think about these points:

1) Books are essentially rotting from the moment they come off the press. The paper they've been printed on since the 1860's is wood pulp, extremely acidic, crumbles and is vulnerable to insects and mold.

2) Don't confuse books with knowledge and the book with the text. Books are just a vehicle to convey information. Your kids are young. They may be more comfortable in 10-20 years reading on a digital screen than in a book.

3) Important works will stay around. They will be reprinted in a new edition and you can buy them again and again as need be. But the list of what's important and meaningful, the canon, is always changing. Some authors and texts will drop off. It's okay to let them go.

I hope that's not too much or too preachy.

Anonymous said...

Kerry, I think you make great points. I particularly like the first one. I would imagine hoarding is somewhat common amongst librarians (she says to reassure herself).

I think Kerry and Wende have good ideas. If you truly aren't sure about getting rid of some materials, you could box them up and store them for 6 months to a year and see if you ever need them or even think about them. This is a strategy that sometimes works for me.

Alana in Canada said...

What's so funny about these tomes is that they were in storage for, oh, eight years, I think. I just got them out (and there's another whole bookcase housing more) a few years ago during the great basement clean-up.

I have put the books in alphabetical order--a fake sense of "doing something" about them: but I could handle that!

Now onwards and upwards to the piles of files!

Mella DP said...

Space represents the future.

Though as your affection for Plato et. al. surely signifies, the future isn't everything.

But Wende's right, even without considering electronic media, those are mostly things that would be easy, and likely inexpensive, to replace. And if the kids are ultimately required to read them by some later educator, they'll be forced to pick up some other edition anyway.

drwende said...

Given that these books recently came out of storage... are they really around because you need to remind yourself that you're a person who can understand Plato?

If so, think about making yourself some time to re-read your favorites. You can't be a good wife, mother, and teacher if you don't nourish your own spirit.

Alana in Canada said...

Thanks, Wende. I plan to, almost every year: but there never seems to be any time! I know I fritter away a lot of it, on-line.

I'm thinking seriously of investing in another workshop from "Simplify 101." The teacher/organizer/entrepreneur is offering one on "Goals" and it just may be what I need to wrap my head around all the millions of things I intend to do and can't because they take longer to complete than my ability to focus and concentrate.

Kerry said...

Alana, you've got a doctor's appointment in December, right? I'd mention the lack of concentration and focus and the sleeping all day. That has got to be debilitating.

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