Marked for Release (or Letting Go)
Earlier this month I wrote about how I felt about stuff. I was sort of building myself up to perform a census of all of my things and then decimate them. I've done some similar things before, on individual drawers or shelves; so felt I could force myself to do it on my life as a whole.
Well, as it turns out; producing long lists of my possessions is quite boring and I gave up before I'd even really started. Preferring instead to focus on a few problem areas and deal with them independently, before taking the census sometime around the New Year after I return from Madrid. I also did some quiet reflection on the matter of stuff, and when I went wild camping in Scotland last week, I was confronted with how fundamentally useful having decent quality stuff is. I've had some mess tins for around 7 years now, and they come in useful every time I camp (around once or twice a year atm). My current conclusion is that having stuff around me isn't necessarily bad. I've discussed how I'm a sucker for ephemera, and my issues about minimalism. I think the caveat is that the stuff needs to be a reflection of who I am in that moment of time, and have a life either through history or current use. If it's useless, or an ornament without specific sentimental value to me, it's going.
I started yesterday with my bookcase. I have plans for this. As I get into various crafts and acquire materials and tools for them, I'm struggling to find places to let these things live in my room. Offloading some to vertical shelves in another room of the house will be a good start. It also lets me trim down my book collection to what matters the most.
First on the chopping block were my Church of Satan books that I acquired in 1st year of Uni, before I realised how fundamentally broken the CoS is. I still identify as a Satanist, but a very different sort. I used to idolise LaVey as a wizened philosopher who saw through the veil of moralism blinding the world. No longer. I actually smiled as I retrieved his "biography" from my shelf. Now widely acknowledged to contain fabrications. Same for my copies of The Devil's Notebook and Satan Speaks!. I enjoyed the pithy tomes at the time, but they're gone now. Also on that same chopping block was The Satanic Scriptures by Peter Gilmore. I'd grown sick of this for a while, as it attempted to apologise for Satanism's connection with Fascism. Basically justifying it through "aesthetics" and "water seeking its own level". Social Darwinist shite. Anyway they're gone. I have some (poorly formatted)
.mobi versions that I can turn to if I need quotes. I also chucked The Satanic Rituals, although kept my copy of The Satanic Bible. TSB will be going to my colleague Nataly as she wishes to understand Satanism and it's a good place to start. I might scribble some critiques in there. Anyway, I'm currently reformatting the
.epub version for use on my Kindle so it's doesn't look like a piece of shit and I always have a copy.
In the same fell swoop I also liberated some of my misc books. Some of them were the ones that V had left with me. I'd read through them, and felt justified letting them go and be books to someone else. Iain Bank's Raw Spirit also went.
As I write this I'm going through a census process for my Calibre library. I have digital versions of varying qualities for much of the fiction on my bookshelves. This, I feel, is the important part. Fiction books are wonderful and special and I will always love them and cherish them, but so can others. A story is no longer bound by physical medium when it can be shared digitally, but there's a barrier to access stuff like Kindles and then finding DRM-free books. I think I need to liberate some of the stories that I've not touched in over 10 years from my shelf, and let them be books for someone else.
This morning I've already confirmed that I have fairly well-formatted digital versions of two of my favourite series The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (and Brandon Sanderson), and The Culture by Iain M. Banks. Both of these series share some important characteristics for me:
- I read them at two very formative points in my teens. Different, but each impactful. I remember running home to read each of them in turn.
- As a series, they each take up the most room, and the second most room, on my shelves respectively (Wheel takes the most).
- Some of the volumes in each series haven't been touched by me for 7 or 10 years respectively.
- The latest volumes in each series were bought to complete the set, with an empty promise that it would prompt me to read the series again. I have well-formatted digital versions of these too.
So the revelation that they're going to be released today is bittersweet. I hope that someone, somewhere, enjoys them as much as I did. In a beautiful turn of symbolism, though, the physical space that they left will be occupied by books by feminist, or socialist (or both!) authors that I desperately need to catch up on. A wise, young, Romanian woman once told me as she kissed her goodbyes in the airport "Matt, if you ever go home with someone and they don't have books; don't fuck them". I then read that if one was to apply this rule then it should also extend to the types and authors of books; no women authors? No dice. While I am not in search for new partners (my current one would take issue), I think this rule should definitely apply to my bookshelf. I've never excluded women from my bookshelf, but I need to make a more conscious effort to put them there. Time to grow.