· Here's a classic track from the memorable LP "Hogan's Heroes Sing the Best of World War II." The survey sez Richard Dawson out-Shatners Shatner ...
I am predominantly autodidactic, dilettantish and eclectic. The search for knowledge follows some narrative, a saga, a journey, rather than programmatic. One book leads to another. Chance encounters and finds are important: hence bookshops and posted catalogues. Indeed, my favourite bookshop, John Sandoe Blacklands Terrace, Chelsea, is arranged this way. But seeking competeness was a dire risk to restrain.
The physical presence, tactility, acoustic, atmosphere, smell, and the beauty of the book-objects is enjoyable, consoling and reassuring. I obtain great pleasure in a physical bookshop, from browsing without direction, discovering unexpected finds, purchasing, discussing with the shop assistant; and at home, perusing, arranging, and succumbing to the transport of reading and the worlds it evokes.
But exploring knowledge and experience is insuficient, it must be shared: in corespondence with frances, then much more extensively with John: a record, a conversation, a setting things down, a trigger for memory. Just as my slide collection (and to a lesser extent, my record and cd collection in music) and It is a paralell memory palace. Each image, each record album, provokes memory.
I am aware that Hoarding Disorder, the dark side of acquisition, is now identified as a psychiatric classification, distinct from obsessive-compulsive disorder, in the Diagniostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth edition, 2013 (or DSM-5).
The internet has become an indispensible extension of and a paralell to this: a vast encyclopedia and trade literature library. I can envisage a virtual library, but for me, it would have to be spatial, a virtual space I could step into.
And I still first refer to physical dictionaries and texts. Why? The physical object, the image, and the music are more telling in this.
But this may not continue to be so in the future. Change has already drammatically occurred. John and my intellectual exchange on paper is ended.
Despite my wonderful and diverse friends, there are large areas of my library no longer shared with anyone: most of the literature, many places,
including Rome and Italy, history and architectural history, contemporary art and art history, even heritage conservation.
The replacement for the loss of this conversation is in the physical books, particularly if carefully ordered. And accessible.
Now there are many books: perhaps 20,000: certainly here are 6,000 just in the Study.
Carl Andrew, who I admire, used to say he bought a book a day, and that's a fair estimate.
There is a negative connotation to all this, if seen an as uncritical and obsessively anal retention, but this are not necessarily the only possible view.
Do some become superseded, thus irrelevant? Unfortunately, few become irrelevant. My books are a visual, and chronological record of my mind. A wander round the house is like a swim through my brain. I add, or expand, interests but rarely discard them.
Older books, eg: on art, as historic evidence? New interests do not displace earlier. Unlike my house, my brain is not finite in capacity. Examples of this are teenage interests like theology and alternative ways of living, that still intrigue me 50 years later. I'm very interested in holding a visual record of art exhibitions I went to when I was 17. And at 26, when I travelled, in the postcards and slides.
RP, (7 December 2012) 14 September 2015.