How many cities have revealed themselves to me in the marches I undertook in the pursuit of books!” – Walter Benjamin: “Unpacking my Library”. I am unpacking . 30 Apr Walter Benjamin’s “Unpacking My Library” Illuminations: Essays and Reflections. Ed. Hannah Arendt. Schocken Books; New York, 24 Aug Last night, in the midst of moving books all over my house, I took the opportunity to revisit Walter Benjamin’s essay “Unpacking My Library.

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Even though public collections may be less objectionable socially and more useful academically than private collections, the objects get their due only in the latter.

You have all heard of people whom the loss of their books has turned into invalids, or of those who in order to acquire them became criminals. By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. After the destruction of the Second Temple by Titus in 70 A.

This or any other procedure is merely a dam against librxry spring tide unpackng memories which surges toward any collector as he contemplates his possessions. Perhaps because I have parted with those books that have negative associations for me — e. We pay every one! It is a little ironic unpackinh the book or object is not the ultimate pleasure of collecting but beniamin also incorporates the thrill of acquisition and the history of the object: But one thing should be noted: This one offers many of the same tomes as City Lights including multiple editions of On the Road and the familiar 5 inch pocket poets edition of Howlbut unlike City Lights, alongside brand new books the Beat Museum sells vintage volumes too.


I procrastinate a whole lot and never manage to get nearly anything done. His imagery helps set the mood and can inspire a sense of anticipation of rediscovering each object, each book.

Donating box after box of books was like tearing out and throwing away pages from a photo album or walyer.

Unpacking My Library: On Book Collecting, City Lights and the Beat Museum

Apart from buying books in stores auctions are another arena for buying books but this can be more dangerous as the collector needs to pay attention not only to the books but also to other bidders. One of the things I love most about City Lights is how it lives and breathes. Also, auctions can allow collectors to get carried away with winning the bid. Notify me of new comments via email.

Unpacking My Library | The Other Reality

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For what else is this collection but a disorder to which habit has accommodated itself to such an extent that it can appear as order? I, for one, have in mind something less obscure, something more palpable than that; what I am really concerned with is giving you some insight into the relationship of a lbrary collector to his possessions, into collecting rather than a collection.

Walter Benjamin on book collecting

Bring Back the Feminist Bookstore. I have a shelf reserved for my teachers over the years: But I can work happily only in my own private library, with my own books—or, rather, with the books I know to be mine. What did she want? They propose that material objects can tell us, can teach us, something about the world, about how we see the world. Like any good museum, the flow of unpxcking Beat Museum ultimately leaves us in a gift shop it actually starts there too.


You are commenting using your Twitter account. It is told that a hand came out and caught them, after which the priests threw themselves into the all-consuming flames. He is now the director of the National Library of Argentina. The shop invites the collector in and the books ask to be packed and unpacked, possessed and handled, read and owned. These are the very areas in which any order is a balancing act of extreme precariousness. Unpaking inspiration for this essay was the act of unpacking his library after its two-year storage.

So, like Walter Benjamin, rather than the book being defined by what it says, by what is written inside, the book is defined for me by where it comes from and who I was when I bought it.

Property and possession belong to the tactical sphere. Published by David Yamane. But, as Hegel put it, only when it is dark does the owl of Minerva begin its flight. Each of my previous 4 major moves involved getting a bigger office and more space for my books. In the act of dalter up a library, the books lifted out of their boxes and about to be placed on a shelf shed their original identities and acquire new ones through random associations, preconceived allotments, or authoritarian labels.

In my new office, I was only given 3 bookshelves and so I have had to pare back to just 1,ish benjaminn between work and home.