“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Sunday, November 14, 2010

An OOO Art Project

On Twitter recently, @agfa8x alias Carl Douglas was ruminating on the joys of a book with uncut pages and I was ruminating on libraries as treasure troves of unseen, unknown stuff.

Seriously. All good librarians enjoy withholding objects from scholars. Some of the withdrawnness of objects has rubbed off on them, to good effect. A good university library should contain objects that almost no one, perhaps not even their owner or author, has ever examined. A great library contains mountains of crap that no one looks at or cares about. And the taxpayer should pay for it. I'm serious!

We need to stop thinking simply in terms of “access” and the serving of popular information like so much fast food, and start thinking of libraries as gifts rather than work houses. Places where you look at stuff without a clue as to what you are finding, or will found, or even what you have found. A good research library is a place of mystery where information has melted back into the objects that contain it. One almost expects the vellum to start morphing back into cows.

Access to information is democratic. However, from this can
come arguments for saving money on top of that. Guess what? They are about destroying objects. Democracy doesn't mean 500 channels of shite visible all times to everyone--it could mean objects set free from use.

Librarianship provides a model for the optimal ethical stance towards hyperobjects.

So here is a really really neat OOO art project. Design a book with uncut pages and a beautiful paper knife.

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