Tag Archives: books

Shadow Libraries

This is an article that I have written for e-flux which speaks to some of the debates that have taken place in Kafila on the photocopying case at DU. Most of the debates have been framed thus far by  legal questions and  questions of cost and access. While  ideas of cost and access are  useful for pragmatic arguments they fail to capture the delirious thrill  which marks most of our encounters with books (whether purchased, photocopied or  downloaded). In one of the comments to my earlier post Jeebesh Bagchi suggested that we should invoke the idea of shadow libraries and also the fact that our arguments should not be scared of dancing so here goes.

The original article can be found here

Shadow Libraries

Over the last few monsoons I lived with the dread that the rain would eventually find its ways through my leaky terrace roof and destroy my books. Last August my fears came true when I woke up in the middle of the night to see my room flooded and water leaking from the roof and through the walls. Much of the night was spent rescuing the books and shifting them to a dry room. While timing and speed were essential to the task at hand they were also the key hazards navigating a slippery floor with books perched till one’s neck. At the end of the rescue mission, I sat alone, exhausted amongst a mountain of books assessing the damage that had been done, but also having found books I had forgotten or had not seen in years; books which I had thought had been permanently borrowed by others or misplaced found their way back as I set many aside in a kind of ritual of renewed commitment. Continue reading Shadow Libraries

Library.nu R.I.P

Amongst the competing visions of heaven offered by the various prophets and saints, my favourite remains the one conjured by St. Alberto Manguel. For him, heaven is a place where you can read all the books that you did not finish. It would be difficult for me – proud member of the tribe of bibliophiles- to imagine a better idea of paradise than this. I would even hazard a bet that many of you fellow tribe members would probably imagine yourself in this other world (with enough time) curled up in a  comfortable sofa, opening a copy of Joyce’s Ulysses for the 28th time – saying finally this time.

But even within the order of the saints, one must respect the subtle rules of hierarchy and pecking order, and by that count St. Manguel would have to make way for the highest ordained of them all- the blind seer who saw everything- Jorge Luis Borges, who had much earlier been granted a vision of paradise and he declared that it was shaped like a library.

Continue reading Library.nu R.I.P