We use objects to tell the stories of our lives, as much for ourselves as for others – they serve as a link between our memories and the physical world. A sauce pan might bring you back to digging through a dumpster in the warehouse district of Berkeley one lovely fall. A particular coffee mug might evoke memories of a perfect nipple illuminated in dim morning light. A coin from New Zealand might remind you of the sound of a loaf of Wonderbread hitting a pedestrian from the back of a moving truck in Auckland. Yet letting go of memories and material things is a requirement for mental sanity. It is an axiom that everything must fade.
With that in mind, I try to live a minimalist life devoid of the voluminous trappings that have become the comfortable bars of the prison that is modern Western existence. I feel that people who have storage units are abhorrent and unquestionably mentally ill.
I have a just one small contradiction though: I find the raw, pungent stank of second-hand literature irresistible and difficult to relinquish. I have hundreds of books, possibly thousands, scattered in my room, other people’s rooms, my basement – everywhere. My walls are lined with millennia of human history and thought – intimate connections to people and places that I treat with deep reverence. Each one a human mind laid bare, but also an object with a story itself. I was at crisis point for months, fretting with scant space in which to pace. Getting a storage unit, selling the books, or creating a prurient display in my living room were fraught with complex issues. After much deliberation there seemed only one sensible option: to build a library memorializing myself that freely shares my wealth with others.
I will have to let go of lovers, geniuses, friends, dopers, malingerers, creeps, and curmudgeons of the first rate. I will miss you at your best, in the heady days of Tangiers, Mr. Borroughs. Mr. Darwin – if we evolved from apes, then why do we seem so much more capable of committing self-destructive acts and base cruelties that seem beneath all other species? Bret Easton Ellis – you have always been there as that twisted friend that I understood and enjoyed hanging out with as long as too many people didn’t see. John Nicols – the chotas and zopilotes will never take our minds or our humanist solidarity. Mr. Robbins – if only you were a woman… Naomi Klein – let me finish my goddammed coffee before we go starting any revolutions; take it easy! To all of you: I can only hope that all of you find eyes as greedy and minds as credulous as mine.
In turn for my generosity I get space for new books that are more offensive, hilarious, and confounding than anything that has ever graced my shelves besides Finnegan’s Wake.
Don’t forget me while I am here. Swing on down to the Memorial Library – Sugarhouse Branch.