Friday, January 21, 2011


So, I have been on a search and destroy mission for about a week, maybe more, probably more, and probably most of my life. See, I get really disturbed by the most mundane- small mind equals big problems. At least two years ago, at the request of Son Three, I ordered a map of the Baja Peninsula (I think that was it but comet o think of it, do not know how a person could get lost on a peninsula) and because he was in Germany (?), I did not mail it to him. Instead I put it in the quagmire I call my library. This is not a grand room, 10 x 10, on a good day, 3 x 3 most days. A wall of shelves built for me with my materials by the instructors and students at the vocational school where I taught. Really a cool deal too because I taught the kids who worked on the cabinetry. Ceiling high, three sections, stained, adjustable shelves, holds maybe 400 books, not much as libraries go but more than I should have put together and which does not include about another 200 golf instruction books and golfer biographies. I should not have put those together either because despite reading some of them three times, I still cannot make a 3 foot putt more than 30 percent of the time. The grand plan is to tome-divest and combine the two, the normal books with the golf books. But and so, anyhow, two weeks ago, I decided that I would find the elusive Baja-map and in the process organize what had become in 100 square feet a higgledy-piggledy mess. This library now, by Herculean shoveling, is organized, but not in alphabetized, shelf-by-shelf.

On the top, two, far left shelves sits The Great Books of the Western World (GB). Purchased to my way of thinking to provide have a truly expensive, liberal education, on a poor man’s budget, for my sons and me. They remain, sadly, for the majority, unread. Oh, I flirted with Plutarch, Swift, lately Adam Smith, but those guys are way smarter than I plus they have a nasty way of using entirely gargantuan words, words unpronounceable and unspellable. Too, the sons would as soon have had Bible lessons in August as pick up a GB, avoiding thick books as if they were push mowers. Expensive really for a family of kids, they were a trade-off for the sewing machine that sits in my basement with less than one hundred feet of stitching through its throat or foot or shoe or whatever; I cannot abide with researching sewing machine parts right now. My favorite and most read of the authors in this collection is Marx (jeesh, no not Groucho). Heck, anyone who could write, “The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonism. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones” can’t be all bad. This much reviled author surely had it near right when he noted,” Modern industry has established the world market, for which the discovery of America paved the way. This market has given an immense development to commerce, to navigation, to communication by land.” Cool, huh? Never messed with Freud because for all his analysis of children’s psyche, he never had one, a child that is, for a patient.

Below the GBs is a shelf of history texts, from The Bible to The Tudor Chronicles. I have dusted and muddled my way back and forth through most of these. Again, most are far beyond my mental grasp: Hawking’s Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays makes my brain hurt; really I can feel the pain in my brain when I try to apprehend any of that time/matter/energy stuff; the gravity of it all gets me. On this shelf is also a four volume history by Josephus which I have plundered and a second volume of The Jesuits in North America by Francis Parkman which depends heavily on The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents. What’s not to like about a book that has “Sacrifice, a human, by fire,” “Tattooing practicsed,” Unchasity of the Indian,” “Dogs sacrificed to the Great Spirit,” and “Sorcery as practised by the Indians” among its topics? (Hey, I wrote the price of this book off my taxes because I taught American literature and some of the first was the Jesuit’s account of their hard times among the Huron and Iroquois. Their painful history was recorded graphically in the film, The Black Robe; I wrote off the video, too, because I used it. As I remember, I joined the bourgeoisies to the tune of 3.07 dollars saved.)

And so it goes, a shelf of fiction, Hemmingway, Garcia Marquez, Abbey, Kingsolver; a shelf for research The American Heritage Dictionary, How Does a Poem Mean?, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (2, want one? Let me know); a shelf for Native American reading Rugs and Posts, Maria, North American Myths and Legends; another shelf of African topics, African Masks, The Tribal Arts of Africa, African Sculpture Speaks, (did you see your first breasts in National Geographic? That magazine twisted me forever.); one shelf for sports Dave Nelson’s Football, a playbook from the Kansas City Chiefs, How to Run the Slot Veer for Success. For those two weeks I pulled, dusted, poked, and shifted so that now there is even a shelf for books on their way out as soon as I can find someone with a big brain or big heart to take them; anyone want a copy of The Writing Teacher’s Sourcebook or a near mint “Doing School” How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students? Free shipping. I will trade for one map of the Baja Peninsula..

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