Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Philosophy of the Book

I've been inundated today with the question of "what is a book?" I heard a piece on the radio where the commentator asked this question. I of course started yelling at the radio: "Librarians have been asking that questions for years, stupid! ASK A LIBRARIAN!" Then once at work in the library, the ILL librarian comes up and we have a talk about connecting traditional philosophical ideas of physicality and reality with FRBR. I don't know if anyone's done this, or if we've all moved way beyond traditional philosophy and just reference our own works now with nary a thought towards the people who spend all their time asking "what is knowledge?". I'd be interested in reading something that connected the two areas of study.
And THEN, another librarian (from acquisitions this time) came in to say that she saw an exhibit by Steve Wolfe that looked like he framed book jackets, and hung paperback novels on the wall. But it turns out that he actually painted those book jackets, and the "novels" are just woodblocks made to look exactly like a book. Objects that are books to the naked eye, but have no knowledge in them.
The universe is telling me to think about this issue. I like it when convergences occur like this, but I'm having trouble even articulating what I'm grappling with today. It obviously requires a lot more thought, but I don't have time to think about these things, either (cataloging awaits me!). What is a book? Is it just information? God, am I turning into Michael Buckland??
"Wicked people never have time for reading. It's one of the reasons for their wickedness." —Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril.