maxcowan

Opportunities or Obstacles

In Uncategorized on May 26, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Today I was happily (?) strolling down George St, Sydney and I was accosted. Accosted by words screaming at me … up to 85% off. Generally this sort of sign has no effect on me – except when behind the screaming words is either a bookshop or a cd/dvd outlet.

This time it was Dymocks! Not my fav bookshop in Sydney but the chances were I might be able to find something of interest on sale.

I managed to walk out with 3 new volumes to help squeeze me out of my already confined work space at home. 3 new volumes to render the inevitable questions about book collection.

Why? Why do it? Why buy more books? You haven’t read all the books you have, you never will!!!

Fortunately, I have gleaned a new answer to this – for which I have to thank Nassim Nicholas Taleb.  His book The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable is amongst the partially read volumes of my library.

Click the swan to find out a bit more of Taleb's Black Swan theory

Part One of Taleb’s book has the heading Umberto Eco’s Antilibrary, or How We Seek Validation.

Taleb’s assertion is that Eco’s very large personal library (some 30,000 volumes) is not an “ego boosting appendage but a research tool”.

The unread books are hosts to the surprise of what we don’t know, the potential subversives to what we think we know, and the positively confrontational for those things we know that we know (but we are wrong!!).

The unread books form the antilibrary. It is has far greater value and opportunity than the library (the books that have been consumed). And as I get older and wiser – the antilibrary simply grows in size, in stature, and in value. The one thing about which I can have certainty about is the knowledge that within the antilibrary is the antidote to any arrogance I may hold about what I “know with certainty”.

So, today I have added 3 volumes to my antilibrary and each of them has the potential to completely upset and revolutionise my current outlook. What a magnificent purchase – especially at the markdown price!!  (For the record: I spent $AU20 marked down from $AU155.)

Here are the books I bought:

Told: The Art of Story by Simon Aboud

Consumer Behaviour by Haydn Noel

Tommy’s War: The Diaries of a Wartime Nobody by Thomas Livingstone

And look at the prices of these on Amazon, makes me realise that:

– books are expensive in Australia!

– I am not so good at finding bargains!

  1. Arhhh the antilibrary… I had one.. and alas due to moves and streamlining my life I have lost it.. I now carry with me an application on my Ipad.. ‘Kindle for Ipad’.. I would prefer a real Kindle ( far better screen for reading), but I cant justify any more technology in my handbag.. It’s beyond ridiculous for a girl who is still fascinated by the electric light!.
    last night I downloaded Linchpin Seth Godin that you recommended at only $9.60 from Amazon. Now I need to check out these titles.. For my antitechnolibrary….

    • Yeah, how good is modern technology – being able to carry in your pocket (well almost) more information and entertainment than was held by the entire world for millenia – it is mind-blowing. Still, I just love the feel of books, the paper, the print, the cover, the weight – there is something sensual and connecting about a book that doesn’t seem to come from a screen (as attractive as unloading life’s clutter may be).

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