Friday, March 11, 2011

You never know

A funny thing happened.
My Father sent me an article from the New York Times Sunday Supplement.

It was about marginalia, the marking up and commenting not merely in the margins of books, but throughout the text, underlining sentences, adding little flourishes of one’s own, including but not limited to stars, brackets, and all manner of marking for reference at a later time.

The writer of the article infuriated me by lyrically extolling his nasty and destructive habit of marking up the pages of books. In fact, to me he sounded overly self congratulatory, actually boasting to writing as much in the margins as there may have been on the original page. To me, this is extreme hubris, and as I understand it, hubris is already extreme.
That he owned the books he had virtually destroyed seemed to me to be beside the point. How distracting to borrow such a volume and try to read through his copious blather? He described just such an incident, and that he needed to borrow back the book while the lendee was still reading. He said that she felt the clean book was somehow lonely.

In my mind this man is a negligent desecrator of the hard work of both author and editor and that instead of creating his own notebook for those meanderings of his mind he preferred to massacre the pristine pages of a new volume.
He even gave historical reference in his defense, possibly not noting that in the 18th and 19th centuries, one did not necessarily have the requisite quill and foolscap at the ready.

I was about to turn the page to finish the article when I discovered that the article sent to me was about soup, and the story about the marginal writer was merely on the outside of the folded pages.

I will probably never read the end of the article, and in any case had read enough of his outlaw ways with the written word. Instead, I will read the soup story intended for me, and perhaps make some nourishing and delicious chowder or stew on this cold and rainy spring day.

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