Wednesday, March 31, 2010

wrapped up in books

This will make for much more overburdened computers and much less cluttered apartments. Bric-a-brac is generally unfashionable now. Designers see apartments full of amusing memorabilia – the matchboxes from Berlin, the Soweto tin car, all the stuff that children love – as dust-gathering and space-consuming. We no longer respect the Cabinet of Wonders as a guiding principle of decoration.

So we lose forever the pleasure known to humanity for 500 years of taking a stroll up and down the aisles of someone else’s brain by perusing their bookshelves. Gone will be the guilty joy of spending a rainy afternoon at a cottage with the remnants of someone else’s childhood: their Nancy Drews, their 1970s National Geographics. Without bookshelves, you will never know the warning signs contained in the e-reader of your handsome date – you will not know for months that he is reading The Secret and Feng Shui for Dummies, even if you stay over. You will never be able to ask, as casually as you can, “Did you like this?” as you pull down, as if fascinated, Patrick Swayze’s autobiography.

No doubt the creators of e-books will come up with an app for this: If you are a Twilight reader at a social gathering, your machine will sense the proximity of another Twilight novel in someone else’s reader and will light up with a big pulsing hot-chocolate icon. (If it’s set to Chuck Palahniuk, the beer icon lights up, and so on.) I know, technology can do all this. But it won’t be the same as good old clutter. When all our apartments are clean, I will miss the wooden skeletons from Mexico and the science-fiction from high school.

The Globe and the Mail | A Lament for the Bookshelf

I disagree with the author on some points. While it's true that uncluttered spaces are fashionable, I think having books along the walls of a space still work with that aesthetic.


Tyler said...

i don't know if you ever read 2thewalls but they talk a lot about "clean" design (which is something that architects are usually seen as promoting) versus "messier" interior design. its a pretty big institutional fight that only a brave few have tried to resolve.

2thewalls does a pretty good job, though.

katie t. said...

Thanks for the link! I wouldn't know which way to go on "clean" vs. "messy" design. A friend told me that my room was "full of stuff" but still looked "clean." That's sort of how I've always felt, that I am organized but also a sentimental and habitual collector. Maybe it's a compromise.