Monday, September 26, 2011
Netting the ephemera
This is not a video about a library in the accepted, modern sense of a public or semi-public institution whose primary goals include the organization and dissemination of information. I know. It's a private library--a place for one woman to think, reflect, read and write. It makes the private library from my first post look a little paltry, but it's something to shoot for, and I think it's important to remember this other side of the library paradigm: that's it's a place that fosters creation and beauty, for the community and for oneself. The term 'library,' as we've all been learning, signifies something bigger than the brick-and-mortar building filled with books, something bigger even that the electronic grooves in the air around us that contain, more and more each day, the sum of human discovery. A library is something internal and private, too; each of us carries a library that serves as laboratory and workshop, as sounding board and depth finder, as the seismograph of the soul. Our inner libraries are the fount of art. This woman, with the help of architect Andrew Berman, has externalized her internal library, bringing forward the subtle stuff of her heart and connecting it to the idea of the traditional brick-and-mortar, but with whimsy and personal taste and, in a way, an eerie inaccessibility. There's her mind, there's her soul in corporeal form, but its beauty is forbidding, as impermeable as the planes and ridges of her skull.
And a commenter on this video brings up a good point: "It's a beautiful job, but with a empty meaning. If this library was a part of a huge comunity of people, who try to live in a different way, it would be outstanding. But its just a job for a very rich writter. It's empty." That's Guilherme Cianfarani on the vimeo version of this vid. He's right; if every public, school, academic and special library in the world were as much a piece of art as this one is (and more relevantly, if they were all as ecologically sustainable as this one appears to be), that would be a tidal shift in the existence of libraries; they'd be not just repositories and distribution centers, as they often seem to be now, but also creative inspirations and dynamos of environmental sustainability. They would play an active role, as never before, in the creation and sustaining of beauty and of life.
The concept of 'library' seems to exist on a spectrum that ranges from an unfeasible and largely non-existent utilitarianism (think warehouses of books being shipped out by robots to suit humans' practical info-gathering needs), through the median ground of libraries as they exist in the real world, and on to the type of ideal realized in the video above--an ideal which, in attempting to capture the ephemeral 'personal library' of one woman, succeeds only in underscoring the narcissism and egotism of creative endeavors. So, let your inner library float free, I think; catch its reflections in the sunshine rippling off the warped spines of your favorite volumes. Let it echo down through your pen or typing finger. But don't plunk it down in the middle of a perfectly good field, aloof and alluring. Be ready and able to share the beauty that your libraries, real and otherwise, inspire you to make.
oh and PS: I love YouTube and Viemo; been using 'em for years. I can always count on someone posting "Hell's Kitchen" all year (nobody tell me who won!!!). But I suppose my criticisms of podcasts apply to self-published video stuff too. Not to mention copyright issues that I should really be more concerned about...but the huge corporations that own TV shows seem capable of defending their interests. (Moral dilemma: is it hypocritical to turn a blind eye to copyright stuff when its victims are the soulless megalopolies whose existence I loathe? Answer: yes, very. Working on it.)