Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

"art may imitate life, but life imitates tv"

So we went to the Rare Book Room for Romantic class today. I was there for English Language class last semester, but we looked at different stuff this time. One of the things we looked at was a large book of Blake's Songs of Experience with photographs by this guy Vitkin (i forget his full name and have had no luck on Google). The photographs weren't taken for the book but were chosen from his ouevre for the book. The cover is leather -- goatskin dyed purple. I shivered. The smell of leather disturbs me. But anyway, it's an interesting book because the photographs are so disturbing. The publisher just came out with Songs of Innocence which Smith didn't buy, but i would be really interested to see it because this guy's photographs hardly lend themselves to "innocence." But the point of this entry is that Smith bought this book for... $5,000; and the price it's selling for, even though it only came out a few months ago, has gone up to $12,000. I said the idea of paying that much money for, well, anything, was staggering (i didn't say obscene) to me.

If i had $12,000, i would not buy this book. If i had $3,000 i would not donate it to the Smith College Museum of Art (as Tryon members do). If i were a millionaire, i would not leave all my money to Norwood Library. I keep coming back to this problem, that certainly things like art are valuable (and things like libraries much moreseo) but if i had the money to spend i would certainly be using it to support soup kitchens or AIDS research or something of life and death importance. This also ties in to the issue that comes up with zining so much -- how perzines seem self-indulgent and not worthwhile compared to political zines. I understand the importance of self-expression and how sharing your experiences can help other people as well as how escapism can be good. I'm certainly not saying we have to be hardworking activists every second of every day. I really enjoy reading perzines and i love being able to express what i'm feeling by quoting songs or TV shows or movies.

I find things like Rare Book Rooms odd sometimes because i just care about the text (i'm including illustrations in this very broad definition of "text"). The fact that something is a first edition means nothing to me. The fact that it's an author's maunscript with notations and changes and such, yes i find that important. Okay, so i understand the importance of libraries and museums and such for scholarly work (not even getting into the "importance in the broader context" of scholarly research). I understand the importance of art. I understand the importance of self-expression. But still, if i were wealthy that is not where my money would go. I think this double standard is something i'm going struggle with throughout my life -- a hierarchy of concerns i guess, which goes back to the problem of there being so many problems in this world that you just have to pick your battles. If i boycotted every corporation whose policies i disagreed with, i would be using/consuming probably literally nothing. Sigh.

Okay, brain hurts now, entry over.

[Normally i would be at home writing this up in WordPerfect and going back and editing it, but i'm at work. I have no work to do and Ann told me to read a book, but i don't have one, so i just wrote this entry and didn't go back and revise it at all.]
Tags: smith: rare book room

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