Who was it who said that life is what happens despite your best laid plans?
Allow me to sum up: immediately after setting up this blog, I had TWO (not one, as I’d previously thought) intensive summer courses start, PLUS a history conference, AND a load of copy-editing for a cognitive historiography journal. Also, I just got tickets to attend a Neil Gaiman talk in nearby Montreal, and have spent the past week reading 1890-1926 utopias (not all of them coherent). My brain is . . . well, let’s be polite and say “synthesizing.”
For my sanity, I just spent a happy hour here: http://blog.shelfari.com/my_weblog/2009/09/neil.html It contains photos of Gaiman’s home library, in sufficient quality to peruse his shelves. Main reactions, in no particular order:
1) “What’s that author? He has a lot of them . . . I better look him up on Amazon.” Occupational hazard, of course, but I can’t help but notice that I’m treating the contents of his shelves as a combination dating site and shopping list. I’m happy to find another Joanna Russ fan, and anyone who has more than one copy of Heinlein’s Stranger can’t be all bad. I’d like to know why there’s a Connie Willis that’s still shrink-wrapped . . .
2) A recurring theme these days seems to be what Tribble & Keene called “cognitive burrows”: the idea that we and our environments co-evolve, that our minds extend into these environments, and that individuals as well as institutions create environments in order to shape our thoughts, form memories, etc. T&K were focused on early modern religion, but Gaiman’s library is a great example . . . though the categorization seems insufficiently arbitrary. I don’t think I could sleep knowing Gene Wolfe was next to Tom Wolfe. But then, I once organized my non-fiction by degree of reductionism. (Hey, it’s no sillier than by “discipline.”)
3) While I’m severely jealous of the sheer number of linear feet at his disposal, I love that even so, he too has mass markets two-deep, and horizontal piles on chairs.
I’ll leave you with a quote from my second favorite Gaiman book, American Gods (which I’ll work into my book even if I have to break my own guidelines). It’s from memory, so don’t quote me:
“One day every soldier in the empire is forced to bathe in the blood of your sacrificial bull, and the next they don’t even remember your birthday.”