Small Stacks

A couple of reading lists, nine titles ordered and delivered to Halle Library on behalf of the First-year Writing Program, and then another pile, an odd-stack, maybe I’ll get to these this summer and maybe I won’t, read bottom to top and top to bottom, shuffled and reshuffled depending on where I leave a copy, depending on what time I have, depending on mood and disposition and weather and gut bacteria, depending on nothing much at all sometimes.

For Halle Library, nine titles.

I am reminded upon posting just the one photo (above) that reading habits run a fickle, snaking course–meandering and irregular, never especially disciplined-seeming except perhaps in their continuing, on-going. Anti-library, nomad-habit, ambivalence, juxtaposition, re-reading, crumb trails, low on fucks or high, intention and purpose or their lacunae, and then add to it finishing up with writing one’s own books, with others or solo, mid-careering, wondering only but so effortfully what’s next and why would this be next but not that. Not the most strenuous May-June ever, litotes.

The Little Mushroom the Englightened Yogi Secretly Stayed With, Untroubled

Implicitly (until now) there is some kind of faint jostling between these stacks, different microlibraries, hints of interest and curiosity washed back by life and distraction, laziness and Netflix, accidental and well-intentioned anti-library, I meant to read you. I really did. I was going to. I was going to read everything.

There’s much missing here, too, another gift, Murakami’s The Strange Library, a couple of books from Ypsilanti Public Library due last night by 11:59 p.m. whose deadline I beat by an hour to renew–a miracle–even though they’re all read, finished, complete, ready for the return slot. Read with greater urgency the books that go back, temporary visitors, ones who would if they could but who cannot stay.

CCCC Vendor Booklists

It’s only a partial list–titles from Pittsburgh, Southern Illinois, and Parlor–collected into a PDF after gathering them at the most recent CCCC book exhibit. Got me thinking about how it would be nice to have such lists compiled and aggregable, year after year, a kind of time series list amenable to isolating years or small clusters of years just for noticing what was circulating at the time. I’d picked them up in the first place because we have a tiny sliver of funding for supplying rhetoric and composition/writing studies focused books to Halle Library on campus, but when I mentioned this to a colleague, she asked for the complied PDF, too, because it carries over readily to placing more direct requests to libraries for end-of-budget-year acquisitions.

2016 CCCC Vendor Booklists by DerekMueller

Documenting The Week That Was In A Single Photo

Ice Cream

The week? Well, as you can see, there was ice cream. As for the ice cream, I neither stepped in it while trying to get into the car nor had a taste of it before it was discarded so carelessly as you see it here. In fact, I don’t even know whose it was.

So as not to seem like I am chronicling woes, this short list will give you some sense of things: an undelivered (i.e., lost) package of books from, a visit to City Auto to have a repair estimate on the parts of the Element affected by a basketball hoop blown into it by last Saturday’s intense winds (think: duct tape is holding parts on the car right now), and a missing teaching station (i.e., computer cart) in my first class of the new semester. Fortunately, family, friends, and colleagues have been singing variations of “The sun will come out, tomorrow,” so persistently that I have been mesmerized into an optimistic outlook on next week, a week in which, if I am lucky, there will be more ice cream and fewer half-eatens chucked aside to melt in the place where I must step to get into the car. Plus: emailed me to say they are re-sending a package of the same books; insurance is covering the damages to the Element (even if it will be a five-day repair); and, I carried my own cords, bubble gum, and a piece of duct tape to the classroom and tested the projection system this afternoon, and it worked perfectly.

Note: It’s a small wonder that this is not the first I have alluded to this Annie song, considering I’ve never sat through Annie, movie or musical.


Desk Before Semester

Twenty-four hours before the first class of the semester, my dorm-office deskscape reveals few surprises to me: books, two with cracked spines patiently waiting for me to finish this blog entry; an empty water bottle, an almost-empty coffee cup; a John Cleese YouTube video I am considering showing tomorrow in ENGL326 (for the tortoise shell concept); a flower cutout (or, rather, for the semioticians, this is not a flower); a television set I have not turned on since the World Cup; a wall calendar set to the correct month for the first time since May. This desk–the same one I worked at last year although then I was in a different office space–bears more short stacks of unshelved books than I would prefer. This condition, the result of reading somewhat less this summer than I at some point thought would be possible.


The Reanimation Library
in Brooklyn (via)
offers a collection of discarded and found books not likely to be held elsewhere:
curios, out-of-print, wonders. Here librarianship is inflected with an art
aesthetic (perhaps more outwardly or radically than in the common case). There seems to be more than rarity justifying the in-status of the
books; but it is a sort of rare collection, one inflected with the idiosyncratic
impulses and tastes of the collector. The 600-book collection raises the question of whether it is
simply an installation called by the name of library. The mission

The Reanimation Library seeks to assemble an inspiring collection of
resources that will facilitate the production of new creative work and
promote reflection and research into the historical, legal, and
methodological questions surrounding the adaptive reuse of found materials.
It strives to provide the necessary space and tools to allow these
activities to flourish, and to foster a climate of spirited collaboration.

"Adaptive reuse of found materials" and so on: sounds like ideas that would
serve well as the guiding impetuses for a composition course–one I’d like to
teach, anyway. The Thingology entry refers to
this recent
report from the Minneapolis City Pages
; both of them mention
Dewey’s Nightmare, a
playwriting experiment tied to the Reanimation Library in which seven writers
wear blindfolds and pick one book each randomly from the stacks. Their
challenge, then, is to shape the random sample into something for the stage.
Quite a methodology, and one not unlike the stuff Sirc discusses in "Box-Logic":
the found collection, the interplay of contingent samples and selections,
renewal in re-coordinating affinities, pulsion, etc.

Don’t miss the
or the pile of

Things I

Three days after the transfer of goods, the books remain in boxes. The
three bookcases in the office are bare. Well, not entirely bare.
Altogether they support just one small box of books, an odd assortment: The
Rhetorical Tradition
, a couple of textbooks, a copy of Social Text
71, Collision Course, What Writing Does and How It Does It,
Sams Teach Yourself Macromedia Flash 5 in 24 Hours
, a 4th ed. MLA
, Evolving Perspectives on Computers and Composition Studies:
Questions for the 1990s
, and a few others.

You, haul

In the 30 minutes it took me to set up Ph.’s computer and reconfigure his
wireless connection, he toted a major portion of the boxed books from living
room floor (where we’d jointly relocated them from the garage) to the upstairs
office. In the photograph, Is. appears to be asking whether the books
should be brought upstairs or down (but we all knew where they went and that she
could be

setting us up
). This means that the books are now piled next to the empty shelves,
within arms reach. Tomorrow, I will unpack them, give them their
independence, and restore the piecemeal collection to its
"mild boredom of order."