Book as support

(Pictures hang on a wall, but pictures are printed in books)

Book as object

Book as container

Book as *tactile*object-container:

The hand passes absentmindedly over the page as the eyes dart back and forth from one line to the next. While the eyes are doing the work, the hand is free to explore the support, feeling the weight and texture of the paper, fingers exploring the thickness of the sheet in preparation for turning it over.

Book as universe

Book as system (of display, of organization)

Book as a discrete unit (of thought, of form)


For me, to own a book is to forget that it exists. It goes on the shelf and becomes part of the furniture. I spend time looking at books, I even spend time acquiring books, but rarely do I pull them out once they’ve settled on my bookshelves. In spite of this sad state of affairs, I take a certain comfort in knowing that my books are available to me. 

I wouldn’t say that I collect books, per se. I certainly wouldn’t identify myself as a collector in the strict sense of the term. To acquire a book is to buy myself the opportunity for future reflection, to take it out (in order to take it in) whenever I please. Most of the time, I am happy to leave it at that: the luxury of pleasure not yet taken.

It might be that my books are too recently acquired, and that as time passes I will grow more distant from the part of me that thought them worth acquiring. Only after they / I have sufficiently aged will I allow myself to take them off the shelf and look at each one anew. Only then will I be able to look at them, and really see them.


“There are pictures because there are walls. We have to be able to forget there are walls, and have found no better way to do that than pictures. Pictures efface walls. But walls kill pictures.”

Georges Perec, Species of Spaces

notes 04-22-2012