end of june

Here we are, the end of June and thankfully not quite the end of days. I just did a quick tally of my performance over the years for #blogjune:

  • 2010 – 34 posts
  • 2011 – 24 posts
  • 2012 – 23 posts
  • 2013 – 4 posts!
  • 2014 – 29 including this one

Hmmm…I think I’ll try and squeeze out another shelf by shelf tonight to make the 30. The first #blogjune, in 2010, was pretty special but they’ve all been fun, and last year was just the wrong sort of year for me.

It’s nice to go back and read my summary post from 2010 and realise so much of what I said still applies today…but different. In those days, folk tended to comment directly on posts whereas these days, there’s a mix of routes. Some will like a post, some will comment on the post, some will engage via twitter or facebook.

I haven’t been as engaged myself in commenting on other people’s stuff though. I wonder if that reflects that outside of June, I am blogging little and barely reading blogs. In 2010, I voraciously read everything, and had done so for years. The last few years I seem to read a lot less; the last year or so I have been somewhat absent while dealing with life stuff. I’ve gone through a period of massive change regarding how I deal with online spaces. I no longer spend all my evenings at the computer at home; I have other people in my life now, and do other things.

I have discovered that there are activities beyond the screen…I even play board games. Often! I’ll blog another day on that one. Speaking of which, I managed to start #blogjune with something of a blogging plan in evernote, to which I added ideas as I thought of them. A bunch of those ideas are as yet unwritten. Hopefully I can continue to blog, though in not quite so hectic fashion. My experience from previous years informs me that I shouldn’t be too optimistic about future blogging practices.

The shelf by shelf posts will continue as they’ve been good for me, and a way of developing a visual record of what I have. It’s been fun revisiting shelves and remembering things; recording old anecdotes on connections and histories and memories. I don’t live in that space as much as I used to and I miss my books the most.

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shelf by shelf 16 – philosophy

So much read, so much forgotten. In addition to “History & Philosophy of Science” (HPS) and “Computer Science”, I also majored in Philosophy. Clearly, I was very much the professional student. While I enjoyed arguing and discussing ideas and working them through, ultimately I ended up being dissatisfied with philosophy itself. That became truer the more studied HPS (or History & Philosophy of Science) as I came to see Philosophy being about ideas and less about the framework in which ideas were being discussed. A chunk of HPS was about situating philosophy, or natural philosophy, within broader societal developments. Philosophy made more sense to me when I could situate it within the politics and history in which particular ideas were expressed ie not dealing with ideas in isolation.

As part of HPS, I read quite a bit of Foucault, and recall liking him quite a bit. Some books on these shelves, and also the history shelves, are actually books I inherited from my father. I’ve never read Hegel and dad seemed to have only vols 2 and 3. Terry Eagleton however was an old favourite that I happily inherited from dad. Eagleton is an old marxist academic and the only thing of his I’ve read is his novel, Saints and Sinners about a fictional meeting between Ludwig Wittgenstein, Nikolai Bakhtin, James Connolly and Leopold Bloom.

I recall reading a bit of it at dad’s place and asked him if I could borrow it. Turns out he’d borrowed it from someone else and had to ask them first if he could loan it to me. Which he did, and I read it, loved it, and returned it. When dad died, the book was still in his collection and it remains unclear whether he had bought his own copy or had never got round to returning his friend’s copy.

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shelf by shelf 15 – a little mad

Here we delve a little deeper into my bookish obsessions. A little bit of odd, some book history, and of course honourable mentions to library history and the OED. It’s not sufficient to want a copy of the printed OED but I have also been fascinated by books about it and the history of the english language. Not to mention books about language, both real and fictional.

There sits my copy of Boswell’s biography of Samuel Johnson. Johnson was the editor of A Dictionary of the English Language, a facsimile I have sitting on a shelf elsewhere. Then there’s histories of reading, histories of libraries, and histories of bookish folk. And Walt Crawford. I like Walt and his continuing efforts to track, understand and write about libraries and matters pertinent to such. Here resides two volumes of his self-published survey of library bloggers.

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shelf by shelf 14 – paradigm shift

And with that, we return to History…and a return to Kuhn and his paradigms of revolution. Kuhn was pivotal in changing how the history of science was viewed and introduced the idea of paradigm shifts for explaining movements in scientific thought. I have a vague recollection that someone published a paper noting that Kuhn managed to use the word “paradigm” in 27 different ways. I remain ever amused that as far as my shelves are concerned Kuhn sits under Feyerabend and his more anarchic approach. Here also sits Koestler and his mighty tome “The Sleepwalkers” on the history of astronomy, another book I photocopied chunks out of.

I miss this stuff. At one stage I was on track for honours and further postgrad studies in the historiography of science, and have long had a fascination with the roles of science and technology and how it is contextualised within society. What is accepted and what isn’t and more importantly why particular views or directions are accepted. It’s not necessarily about the right or wrong path, or adherence to a rigid enforcement of scientific method; it’s also about social mores and politics and personalities.

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shelf by shelf 13 – cookin’ the books

I’m not much of a cook to be honest, not that that would surprise anyone. Cooking for one a few nights a week worked fine, cooking for two one or two nights week also works ok. I have cooked for 4 once when I hosted a dinner party but that’s the exception that proves the rule. I’m certainly reluctant to cook for 5, though no doubt will cross that boundary one day – so far they’ve been happy with me buying pizza :-) I’ve been given a few cook type books and Margaret Fulton’s Encyclopedia of food and cooker has been one of the more useful ones, simply because it covers almost everything. I can look stuff up and gain useful clues.

This is the shelf of childhood memories upon which we move on from series toward individual works and authors. Near the start is one of my favourite books, Palio, about a horse race in Italy. Ah, the Mushroom Planet books, which I read a few times and still trigger good memories. Also present are The Tripods by John Christopher, good SF for kids. Speaking of which, G.R. Kesteven’s The Awakening Waters was another big favourite set in a post apocalyptic time when life has returned to basic farming and most folk are kept drugged as a means of control.

When I was in primary school, there was an occasional dinner held with authors and illustrators of children’s books. I don’t remember much about them but they seemed to be held irregularly and kids from several schools would attend, each group seated at a table with an author or illustrator randomly allocated. I was usually included as it was well known that I had a voracious appetite for books. I adored book clubs and reading catalogues of titles; I even scored a merit certificate in 6th class for library participation – because I’d borrowed the most books. The only author dinner I can remember was being seated with NL Ray and reading her books “There Was This Man Running” and “The Everywhere Dog“. Needless to say, such dinners were also great for getting autographs.

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book buying

Despite having too many devices and spaces and appetite for things in e I continue to buy things in p. I can happily buy books in e, though it tends to be fiction and without pictures. For novels at least. I also subscribe to a few magazines via the zinio app on my tablet. I’m just coming to the realisation that in the last week I have bought close to 10 books…in print:

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looking for botero

I am occasionally, maybe often…ok lots…on the lookout for interesting books. I noticed that this morning’s email from Abebooks featured an old favourite. Last year, or maybe the year before, the State Library hosted an exhibition that included some really old books including an interesting work called “Le relationi vniversali di Giovanni Botero Benese” by Giovanni Botero. The book was open at a page with an unusual drawing, some of which the Library has digitised.

Botero [thumbnail from SLNSW]

At the time I hunted around for a copy but no luck. In my quest for books, I’m not necessarily interested in first editions (though can be sometimes) but simply having any edition of an interesting work is sufficient. Facsimiles, such as my copy of The Voynich Manuscript, are certainly weclome. The book happened to pop up again today so I ran some searches and found that there were a couple of copies of the original available, though at £2,750.00, it was a little beyond my reach :-)

However, it turns out that a facsimile was published in 2010, with a European and a US edition and a much more respectable, and affordable price. I am a wee bit tempted.

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