I have literally no memory of opting to get any of these on Amazon. Most of these books were bought impulsively, more like making a note to myself to read this or that than acquiring a tangible 3-D book; the list is a list of resolutions with price tags that will, with any luck, make the resolutions more urgent. Though it’s different from Benjamin’s ecstatic book collecting, this cycle of list making and resolution and constant-reading-to-keep-up is not unpleasurable.
Beholding “the several thousand volumes that are piled up around me,” Benjamin exclaims: “O bliss of the collector! Bliss of the man of leisure!” With nothing piled up around me but the Kindle and its charger, I may be missing out. But even Benjamin, who managed to see the future of media and technology more than once, knew he was writing an elegy for a way of experiencing books. I like to think he would be the first to recognize that the Kindle delivers a new kind of bliss.
The Indian Razzies. Awesome!
For excellent companions, though, they lead a rough life with me. Most of my books are still where they landed when I realized that I’d need to shelve them in some slightly random order if I wanted to get everything out of boxes at all. Two years later, I still shuffle books around in mass-quantity ways, moving whole sections of my holdings to and from my office, or up and down my stairs. As another Kenyon semester draws its first deep breaths, preparing for the plunge, I have realized how diffused even my teaching collection is.
But I’m starting to wonder whether the chaos of my collection isn’t something I’ve willfully cultivated, simply so that I can have the joy of rediscovering and reuniting with my books over and over again. And so…I turned last night to Benjamin’s essay…“I am unpacking my library,” Benjamin begins (in Harry Zohn’s translation). “Yes, I am…. I must ask you to join me in the disorder of crates that have been wrenched open.”
t has been shocking and bewildering to watch the behavior of some of the top banking CEOs in recent months, punctuated by the appearance of four of these executives before Congress last month. Some questions immediately pop into my mind. Do they follow the news? Have they no conscience? Do they not have public-relations people on retainer? The answer to all three is, apparently, no because it is clear that they are so far out of touch with reality…
I would like to see two things happen to these Top Guns.
The next time Big Finance wrecks the global economy, they should have the sweet fruits of moral hazard removed from their plates. Then, we can say what Matt Damon said in the film Good Willing Hunting, "How do you like them apples?!?!"
But before that, these Big Shots should be forced to stand in front of the American people (and the world) and write "I Will be Contrite. I Will be Grateful. I Will be Humble." on the blackboard once for every billion dollars they cost us.