Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

20 May, 2007


Nothing like a trans-continental move to make you decide what's worth keeping. Everything I own right now, I'm having to justify with the question, "Why the hell am I keeping this?" The superficial layers of junk were fairly easy to cast off - knick-knacks and odds-and-ends with a little sentimental and historical value that I could never bring myself to get rid of until now. Some of the baby items were more difficult, the emotions attached to those, however, over-ridden by the imperatives of saving space and the ease of cheaply finding them in the future.

Yesterday I tackled my library. This one was painful.

In the first pass, I took out the obvious suspects. Gone was Ayn Rand's Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, found in a free-box somewhere, but never read (was there a need to read anything beyond Atlas Shrugged)? Also gone, a "scientific" tome entitled We Are the Earthquake Generation, a Star Trek:TNG novel (yes, I'm a dork), and... that was about it.

For the second pass, I needed to start asking myself some more incisive questions: did I need any of Norman Mailer's political books beyond Miami and the Seige of Chicago? Was there a reason to have anything of Hunter S. Thompson's beyond Hell's Angels and the two Fear and Loathings (both of which I've lost - if anyone has a copy of F&L on the Campaign Trail '72 they'd be willing to part with...)? Was their any point in owning the coffee table book about my favorite band from ten years ago? No, no, no.

And yet I knew it wasn't enough.

So it went, asking myself why the hell I was keeping some books. Some odd puppies got thrown in the keeper box. Mezaros's Beyond Capital made the cut, not so much because it loomed large in my intellectual development, but because it's 1200+ pages of inscrutable social theory into which I could only wade 20 pages - the Finnegan's Wake of sociological theory, as it were. It, along with Gravity's Rainbow and a set of golf clubs, serves as a monument to the limits of my patience. Classics within my fields I kept. Whole literature streams got discarded (if anyone's interested in some books on development, lemme know). I abandoned the thought that for many of the books I had acquired I'd eventually get around to reading them. Who was I kidding.

So, what I'm left with is a pretty impressive collection of books on labor and organizations, a decent survey of political economy and feminist theory, a sparse but respectable literature collection, and a smattering of books which have sentimental value (Principia Discordia).

The whole process is pretty exhausting, and I'm slowly taking things down to the bookstore to be rewarded for my diligence.

I'm not sure, however, that I'll be repeating this on our music collection.

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