I do want to do something.

Intimate Properties
January 28, 2010, 4:53 pm
Filed under: 98 weeks research project, Cosmic love

I am starting with 98weeks a research on arabic/ Lebanese culture and arts magazines, published from the 50s on. The idea is to collect and present these books in the Bidoun Library in April 2010. I have found this little kitab book that I really like. It was published in Egypt in the 50s.

I have just read out loud Benjamin’s essay on book collecting, Unpacking my Library.His essay arose a couple of interesting thoughts in relation to archiving,  the public and the private.

I first was slightly disturbed by the overtly passionate description of collecting and the atmosphere that accompanies it; an infinite quantity of dusty and chaotic crates containing books with each a singular history and memory. Benjamin moves on to describe the chaos implied in a collection (which is also associated with a chaos of feelings and affect; one could kill to have a book), to the precarious order of classifying and arranging these books. As I have understood it, one does not goe without the other (and indeed if there is a counterpart to the confusion of the library, it is the order of the catalogue” ).
Passions for book collecting also do not go without a particular economy, the one of property, or more precisely of possession. How does a collector acquire his books and how does his relation to books determine the act of collecting?
A collector is a book borrower that does not return the books; his act of purchasing must also be accompanied by the ritual of it; meaning that to acquire books in a conventional  bookstore won’t do. His acquisitions are linked to particular cities and journeys that comes with memories of hidden bookshops. An enterprise that is similar to a quest that resolves itself in an encounter between the book and the collector. In this encounter, something is brought back to life. Factors such as previous belongings, the edition, the printing press ect… are also  crucial parameters in this encounter.

The particularity of acquisition activates an economy of loss since the property of the object is material but also shares a border with life. It is an intimate property rather than a private one. This is the reason why, when a collection becomes public, it looses what made it a collection, mainly its collector. The collection seems to be the impossible relation between life and the object.

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I’ve got this feeling I’m going to read all your posts. you’re on my blogroll/

Comment by prozakc

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