06 October 2011

My Annotated Books

I love photography but I have little affection for photographs. I admire framed photos on a museum or gallery wall, and I have in my book collection several themed photographic collections. I really don’t go into museums very often; inside the museums, infinity goes up on trial, and I prefer to stay away from the courthouses. I almost never look at any of them unless somehow they have fallen off the shelf.
I rarely look at photographs pasted in album books whose purpose is to measure moments in my life, even if the images portray someone else and someone else’s moments. And somehow, those kodachromes that make all the world a sunny day seem so false. They are always filled with regret. On my wall I sometimes hang a photograph, but mostly these exhibits are for others. Even day after they are hung, I do not see the photographs. They collect dust.  I know photos inspire memory, but at this moment I have no need for this spur to produce memory.
And all about me on the walls of my home are books that I take down regularly to study the annotations I made when last I read the text. I love to discover the person who had such responses. Studying my thought back then I get some sense of what I think now; it is the living production of intellectual autobiography. In the annotations in my book I engage in a conversation with a younger man whom I intimately knew, like running across an old friend whom I have not seen in years. “Please,” I say, “let’s have a cup of coffee.” The photographs I do not take to coffee, but rather, use them as coasters for the mug. It is always a pleasure to renew acquaintance in my annotated books; they serve as a means to know the present. These perhaps are a legacy I can pass on.
In my life I have at times thrown photos in a waste bin, sometimes because I no longer wanted nostalgic remembrance, and sometimes because the photos overwhelmed the space of the present. But I find I cannot discard a single book for fear that with it would go a piece of my self.


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