Friday, June 05, 2009

Antilibrary

The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with "Wow! Signore professore dottore Eco, what a library you have! How many of these books have you read?" and the others -- a very small minority -- who get the point that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real-estate market allow you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.
From the introduction of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan
(via Kottke)

It’s Sonia Sotomayor, being raised by a determined, hard-working widow (for whom a $400 encyclopedia must have represented a tremendous financial sacrifice) reading the Britannica in a neighborhood where few if any other people valued it as much as her mother did.

“The Britannica was a physical embodiment of the existence of a serious world where there was a lot to be learned beyond one’s own experience,” Randall Stross, author of the books “The Microsoft Way” and “Planet Google”, said in a telephone conversation. “Just having it on the shelf was a way to remind kids of the importance of education, and it was a counterweight to all the trivial and even dangerous pursuits that surrounded them.”
There’s More to Moving Up Than Books Alone by Richard Bernstein



Private house on beachside plot in Cahuita, Costa Rica by Gianni Botsford Architects - A bloody beautiful library. I wanna have exactly the same one when I grow old :)

2 comments:

Muhulaivan said...

Wow, beatiful! I also want such a library with lots of unread books! I read your blog quite regularly, and I always wondered where and how have you accumulated all these knowledge. I mean, to me, you sound like someone who has grown up in the states, may be in the eastern part, and has been what we call sometimes "togoond ni chanagdah" type of person. I particularly enjoy your this and that chatter, and I cherish your music sense! so rock on, and hope to hear a lot from you.
Cheers.

dolugen said...

Hmm, nice, thanks.