Thursday, December 26, 2013
Early in the morning of the 3rd of this month my living room renovation was to the point where I could refill the bookcases flanking my fireplace. And it didn't give me pleasure to get it done, it made me disgusted with myself and sad.
The books had been stored in boxes in the guest bedroom since August of 2008, and in all that time I'd forgotten much of what I had. Or at least, I'd forgotten the implications of all the books I had. For once I got them all shelved, I felt empty, disquieted, disturbed. I hardly knew what to do with myself.
For looking at those bookcases was like peering into a window to the past. There are books on music criticism and music history. Musical scores I've carried to symphony concerts and scores I've sung. There are plays and essays and poetry. Books on art history, church history, secular history. On art and architecture, ancient, medieval, and modern; on icons and stained glass and Gothic cathedrals. All the subjects and pursuits that make for a civilized life, sidelined, ignored, for years. The works of so many great, entertaining, and wise authors and composers sat again on my shelves: Tasso and Browning, Shakespeare and Chaucer, Lamb and Emerson. Beethoven, Schubert, and Berlioz (always Berlioz!). Eusebius, Schaff, and Chadwick; Ruskin, Conant, and Arnheim. Coulton and Tuchman. Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Frank Lloyd Wright. Where had they been these past years? Where had I?
There was a time when I sat down and read those books. When I sang and played that music. Back when I had a full time architecture career and felt like I was contributing to the beauty and order of the world. I was a better person then, before I began to dissipate my energies on computer card games and checking my Facebook Notifications tab every fifteen minutes . . .
And if I spend too damn much time fooling around on the Innerwebz, I'll about guarantee that outcome.