I was in the library the other day looking at some old books, and I went off in search of Diderot’s Encyclopédie. And when I found the row of volumes, the books were all wrapped up and tied with bows. It was adorable.
I had seen books in archival phase boxes before, but usually the boxes are fairly new, constructed of mounting board or some such, and the closures are Velcro. These boxes however, were … um, not really boxes. Only the front cover, spine, and back cover had hard surfaces, and the flaps that go around the pages’ exposed three edges were a flexible sort of textile. Not exactly archival.
Oh, and I got really nervous at one point when the corner of the page CRUMBLED AT MY TOUCH. Woah. I wonder how long those books sat there before I messed with them. Pretty neat to see books that are super old, but at the same time, it’s kinda nasty thinking about how many people have touched the pages before you, and as you’re flipping through the pages, you’re basically breathing in dust particles that have been trapped for YEARS.
At work, I’m organizing files to be archived. In the file cabinets there were some magazines, but only certain articles were relevant for the archives, meaning … I had to cut up an Artforum. ACK!
I am one of those people who does not write in books. I don’t highlight. I don’t even fold pages. I just do not mess with publications. It seems so blasphemous. And then to CUT UP a magazine, especially one like Artforum? Sadness. Pure sadness in my mind. Especially because according to the archiving procedures, I had to cut out the relevant articles AND the cover … and the rest of the mutilated glossy could go into recycling.
Sigh. I have a stack of Better Homes and Gardens and I don’t even tear those apart. I might place a post-it note on an article to get back to, but I don’t think I could bring myself to destroy it. Oy. Yes, I’m a bit neurotic about these things, but it truly pained me to cut up those magazines!
[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is reposted here for my own sake.]