On Friday I had my first foray into the stacks at UBC, to start the process of returning the inscribed rose petals to the books in my “Bibliography.” (please see the page on this blogsite for further info on this project).
To say the least, the experience was a delight – enveloped in the smell of books, searching through endless rows, finding familiar titles and meeting new ones, pulling books off shelves and thumbing through their pages; looking for evidence of previous readers – marks, notes, underlining and anything else that might give away the presence of former touch. And, there was that added thrill of knowing that I was there to intentionally add something to that collection of physical evidence.
I had no idea how long it was going to take me to find each book, search through its pages, make notes, place one inscribed rose petal somewhere into the book, photograph the page or book cover and return the book to its original spot on the shelf. I certainly could not anticipate how engaging it would be to read sections of the books – the heavily underlined and “used” pages especially. What did other readers find important? What preoccupied their reading? Who were they? Truly, each mark, each trace, a “world…on the doorstep” to use one of the Nancy text fragments. It’s going to take me a long time to get through my bibliography.
Of the books that I explored on Saturday, 3 discoveries stood out – one was finding Foucault’s essay on “The Meninas;” another was coming upon a receipt of checked-out books from 2007 which included the book that I was looking at, at that moment; and the third was the discovery of a lovely tiny dedication, perched in the corner of the first page of an essay written by Mieke Bal. The dedication reads, For “A” in loving memory.