notes from an urban hibernation

Paris : Simon Cutts & Erica Van Horn

The Best Bit is the Finding


I am always happy to find things in books.  I like to find a bus ticket or a train ticket from some far away place. I like to find a card from a restaurant or hotel or a rubber stamp shop.  A photograph of a person or a place is especially good.  Postcards are lovely to discover.  The address reminds me of where I was when the postcard was received as well as who sent it, from where and from what year.  A postcard offers a lot of information. Staying in this book-filled apartment offers me the added delight of finding the memories of other people between the pages of their books.  It makes me wonder and worry about a future with people reading fewer books.  If people are reading on electronic devices and not reading books made of paper they cannot lend their books, nor can they shelve their books and they cannot leave things in the books. There are a lot of things that are not important enough in themselves to keep but are just perfect to use as a bookmark.  When a book has been read, the book mark is left behind. Michael Asher did a project in 1991 at the Centre Pompidou where he collected all the bits of paper he found as he went through every single one of the books in the Centre’s psychoanalysis section of the library. I do not know how many books that would have been but he found a lot of things.  He made elaborate charts about what had been found in which books, locating them within the shelving system of the library. It all became a kind of playing at analytical scientific classification.  I did not see the show.  It sounds like it got rather too serious about the pleasure of nosing around.  I have seen other exhibitions where artists have culled bits of paper from the volumes in various libraries.  There is an intimacy in the finding.  A rumour always surfaces of someone finding a slice of bacon in a book.  I think that is an urban myth.  Anyway, I am most interested in my own finds in my books and in the books of people I know. If someone else finds the left behind paper and presents it to me and or to a larger audience, they deny me the best bit which is the finding. EVH

One comment on “The Best Bit is the Finding

  1. Tess
    March 8, 2016

    ah dear erica…such true words! i look up at my bookcase and am reminded to find some bookmark or another paper entry before i let some books go…

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This entry was posted on March 7, 2016 by .
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