發文作者:c.w. | 三月 9, 2005

Those books I bought, but never read

Book front cover

Title:
Illuminations
Author:
Walter Benjamin, Hannah Arendt, Harry Zohn
ISBN:
0712665757
Rating:
Not rated

I always read something about this book, then I thought, all right, if I came across it at a second hand book store, I will definitely buy it. Why second hand bookstore? This book is a must-read for every humanity graduate student. Every decent academic libraries in this country have one to many on their shelves. If I really need to take a look, just find it on the shelf. Second hand references will do the trick as well.

So, last week I went to Oxford, still looking for it at local shops. But it seemed there’s not really a recycle book culture in this country. I couldn’t find a second hand as good as Chicago’s Powell’s or New York’s Strand. (I really see them as my libraries.) “We all need some luck for shopping," I talked to myself. Then, today, I got to find a chapter from the same author. I saw the title, got the book, read it through at the library, and came home trying to build up a record of what I’ve been reading recently. Then I glanced over the very top of my shelf; I saw the same author’s name!

It was actually the same book, but in a different version, which successfully deceive me of trying to buy a new one. And, let me tell the story of this never-been-read book. I bought it at Powell’s in 2000, brought it back to Taipei, and moved it with some other “significant" books here. But I couldn’t tell it was on my own shelf in the last six months (years) ! Okay, I remember all my CDs and books on their visual designs. For books they are the spines; and for CDs they are the cover. I’ve tried and found any mp3 music without visual sources are a challenge for me to remember, anything.

What I am trying to say is really this:

Benjamin talks about the “shock defense" system according to Freud in his analysis of Baudelaire’s poetry.

The more efficiently it does so, the less do these impressions enter experience (Erfahrung), tending to remain in the sphere of a certain hour in one’s life (Erlebnis.)

And he continues, a thing called “reflection"

would turn the incident into a moment that has been lived (Erlebnis). Without reflection there would be nothing but the sudden start, usually the sensation of fright.

Without reflection…If we are stuck in our daily routines, and, busy, without our own reflection towards the world, then we cannot remember a thing. They are all part of life to us, but not memorable experiences in life.


Responses

  1. Once I read a book by George Orwell, in which he mentioned the experience of working in a second-hand book shop that always destroy a person’s favor over books. My own feeling is Britain is really a bookish country and you can find plenty of seond-hand bookshops. Such the place I planed to visit last time, where is a bookish town with over 30 second-hand bookshops , amazing enough. Yet, you can find literature easily but it’s difficult to find current academic books. I still need to buy new academic books if I need.

    COMMENT:

    thanks for Ian’s correction. It’s Baudelaire. I always mixed these two together…


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