03 November 2010
26 October 2010
21 October 2010
06 October 2010
04 October 2010
26 September 2010
22 August 2010
31 July 2010
29 July 2010
28 July 2010
Surrounding these two core theories is the concept of liminality, both in the architectural sense: the conceptual, ephemeral relationships between people and spatial environments (installation and live performance art as a practice of liminality, library practice beyond physical building environments); and in the post-feminist (Luce Irigaray) and post-structuralist (Michel Foucault) sense of the hybridisation of forms of knowledge, experience and practice, that is, an exploration based on where and how ‘things’ meet, rather than where and how ‘things’ become ‘separate’ or are examined on the basis of differentiation. The blurring of borders and boundaries: that’s what we’re interested in exploring, the periphery of the periphery – or, as one recent new member of the library put it, the event horizon, in fact.
In terms of the ‘liminality’ of our library, this is essentially represented in both the library practice itself – operating without the confines of a building, so we literally install the library pretty much anywhere we manage to get to – and in the ‘liminal’ ethos of the library’s collection of items. The collection ethos – our acquisition policy, seeks to recognise and re-negotiate the ephemeral nature of poetry, in the sense of both its oralcy, and its continued existence in the outer realms of the ‘literature’ world. So, as you see, we’re back to the periphery of the periphery again.
Floating amongst all this are several further conceptual and literal explorations of sustainability: which centre on the core concepts of sharing and redistribution (of resources, knowledge etc.) and collectivity (working together, sharing together). These ideas have been generated, and expanded, throughout the project’s timeline, as we continued to explore, and find ourselves necessarily negotiating, these ideas (and thus their practical applications) in order to quite literally operate the project, in and of itself, and to maintain the ongoing growth and development of the project through time.
All of these ideas feed in to, and seek to help address, what we see as the key issues of our time: recognising the limits of our world’s resources, recognising that we may live ‘alone’ but that we share this world with others, recognising that the answers we seek are best addressed by a collective, civic-mindedness, that places health, education, lifelong learning, and ‘life experience’ above and beyond the pearly gates of simply making money.
Anyone can make money. It’s what you do with it that counts.
Essentially, we see that our work is about re-placing these notions of humanity, these values, back into our cultures: for if we do not, our cultures, our world – we – will not survive. Bertolt Brecht asked “What keeps mankind alive?” All the world over people have been answering his question, but the answers have been getting quieter and more and more subsumed by the burble of consumer-led culture.
It’s time to reclaim the conversation, and sing a song for (wo)mankind once again.
In homage to Brecht, our recent engagement with all things library-related and Germany, and our vision of the library as the curated collective mind and knowledge-space of our species, we’re christening this movement, this mindset, this concept and practice as:
It investigates human development from a systems analysis point of view, starting with the:
D (Data) ---> I (Information) ---> K (Knowledge) ---> W (Wisdom) model.
Sustainability (Ecology of the Library)
Collectivity (The Commons / Copyright / The Library)
Recycling (The Library)
Alternative Distribution (Publishing / The Internet / The Library)
Redistribution (Publishing / The Internet / The Library)
Liminality (The Library / Poetry)
Civics (The Library as Civic Space / Democracy / Human Rights)
Civility (The Library as Citizen Space / Collective Social Minded-ness / Democracy / Human Rights)
Welfare (The Library as Knowledge Portal for Lifelong Learning and Development)
Society & Culture (The Library as Collective Cultural Archive / Knowledge Curator)
It is about exploring knowledge, and how we ‘attain’ or ‘acquire’ knowledge, as humans, from birth to death, and how this feeds and sustains our evolution, our development, as a species.
27 July 2010
We believe in being glass-half-full sorts of girls.
We believe that often times, granny is chic.
We believe in peddling vintage Schwinns with flower baskets.
We believe in poetry, picnics, and piñatas.
We believe one is never too old to keep a diary, the secrets only grow more scandalous.
We believe in arranging fresh flowers unruly like an English garden.
We believe in adventure and traveling the globe, be it to Marrakech or Malibu.
We believe in mixing lucite with oriental rugs. Thrift store finds with heirlooms.
We believe in handwritten thank you notes, better late than never.
We believe in needlepoint, letterpress, decoupage and forgiving Martha Stewart.
We believe in piggy banks and cookie jars.
We believe in book clubs full of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Austen and Woolf.
We believe station wagons are hopelessly chic.
We believe in recycling our Grandmothers’ names. Eloise, Jackie, Faye…
We believe in collecting: stamps, shells, books, big glittering diamonds…
We believe in marrying the boy that writes us the best love letters.
We believe in highly competitive board games—Chess, Scrabble, Chutes & Ladders.
We believe in spontaneous road trips and charming, chintzy bed & breakfasts.
We believe there’s something to fortune cookies, wishbones and 4 leaf clovers.
We believe in classics, shaken and stirred.
25 July 2010
23 July 2010
09 June 2010
05 June 2010
21 May 2010
11 May 2010
Insomniac CityBy BILL HAYES
I moved to New York a year ago and felt at once at home. In the haggard buildings and bloodshot skies, in trains that never stopped running, like my racing mind at night, I recognized my insomniac self. If New York were a patient, it would be diagnosed with agrypnia excitata, a rare genetic condition characterized by insomnia, nervous energy, constant twitching, and dream enactment. An apt description of a city that never sleeps, a place where one comes to reinvent himself.
I brought very little with me, in part because I wished to leave behind reminders of the life I’d had, but also for more practical reasons. My new home was a virtual treehouse, a tiny top-floor walk-up apartment at eye-level with the Ailanthus boughs. There was not room for more than a desk, a chair, a mattress. Nor, a need: You see, the place came furnished with spectacular views of Manhattan.
What I didn’t know when I rented the place was that the French restaurant located straight below my apartment had outdoor seating till 2 a.m. Lying awake in bed, I could literally hear glasses clinking, toasts being made, six stories down. This was irritating at first. But it wasn’t long before I discovered a phenomenon heretofore unknown to me: Laughter rises. Hearing happy laughing people is no cure for insomnia but has an ameliorative effect on broken-heartedness.
Sometimes I’d sit in the kitchen in the dark and gaze out at the Empire State and Chrysler buildings. Such a beautiful pair, so impeccably dressed, he in his boxy suit, every night a different hue, and she, an arm’s length away, in her filigreed skirt the color of the moon. I regarded them as an old married couple, calmly, unblinkingly, keeping watch over one of their newest sons. And I returned the favor. I would be there the moment the Empire State turned off its lights for the night, as if getting a little shut-eye before sunrise.
Here’s another wonder I discovered about life here: In the summertime, late into the night, some leave behind their sweat-dampened sheets to read in the coolness of a park under streetlights. Not Kindles, mind you, nor i-Phones. But books. Newspapers. Novels. Poetry. Completely absorbed, as if in their own worlds. As indeed, they are. I had never seen anything like this until I took a shortcut through Abingdon Square Park one night while walking off my own mild agrypnia.
First I saw an old man reading a newspaper from which someone (his wife?) had snipped numerous articles; it looked like a badly botched doily. I tiptoed past, as if wearing slippers, and he, as if at home in his La-Z-Boy, did not glance up.
Next I spotted a young man reading a paperback with a distinctive brick-red cover. I was pretty certain I knew what classic he had in hand but had to make sure. I fake-dropped my keys nearby and crouched down for a better look. Just then, the young man shifted in his seat, denying me absolutely proof. That’s O.K. I was left to imagine him imagining himself as Holden Caulfield.
At the far end of the park, I found a middle-aged woman bathed in light Vermeer would have loved, reading what looked like a textbook. Was she a teacher preparing for tomorrow’s class, a student cramming last-minute, or neither of these? Perhaps she was simply teaching herself.
Of course, not everyone awake at this hour is an insomniac. The city is alive with doormen, delivery boys on bikes, street sweepers, homeless people, hustlers, prep cooks popping up out of trap doors in the sidewalk. I make a point of waving or nodding hello when I can. I have come to believe that kindness is repaid in unexpected ways and that if you are lonely or bone-tired or blue, you need only come down from your perch and step outside. New York — which is to say, New Yorkers — will take care of you.
One night not long ago I was walking down Hudson Street when I spotted a dollar bill on the sidewalk. Even at my age, 49, such a find seems magical. Free money! I leaned down to pick it up just as a woman opposite me was doing the same thing: “A dollar,” I heard her murmur, and our heads practically bumped. We both laughed. I happened to reach it first, but it seemed ungentlemanly to take it. “Here, it’s yours,” I said, offering it to the woman.
“No! No, it’s yours, you got it first.”
“No, I insist, you take it,” I said, but by this point, she was walking away, arm in arm with a handsome man; she already had her prize. Suddenly, inspiration struck: “I’m going to leave it for someone else!” I called back to her.
“Perfect!” she said, over her shoulder. “Good night!”
I dropped the dollar back onto the sidewalk. It was liberating: To throw money away or, more accurately, throw it to the fates, as I had with my life by moving to New York City.
I walked a few steps and, I kid you not, hid behind a tree to watch what would take place. One couple passed by without noticing the dollar, then another. Finally, a man about my age came walking in my direction. Hunched shoulders, troubled look, pulling on a cigarette. Definitely an insomniac,I thought. I want you to have it. It’s yours. You deserve it.
From my secluded vantage point, I watched as the fellow spotted the dollar. He stopped, looked around to see if anyone was in the vicinity. Perhaps someone in front of him had dropped it? No, the sidewalk was empty. He picked up the dollar and pocketed it with a small smile then went on his way. As did I, back to my treehouse.