When I was little, my ambition was to grow up to be a book. Not a writer. People can be killed like ants. Writers are not hard to kill either. But not books: however systematically you try to destroy them, there is always a chance that a copy will survive and continue to enjoy a shelf-life in some corner on an out-of-the-way library somehwere in Reykjavik, Valladolid or Vancouver.
Amos Oz (via hmhbooks)
Asko aga tundus tulevat justkui teisest maailmast, ta kodus oli hiiglaslik raamatukogu, suurem osa sellest venekeelne, kuna kuulu järgi pärinenud ta isa mingist vanast aadlisuguvõsast, millest suurem osa olla jahvatatud revolutsioonimasinas kondijahuks. Ükskord olid ülemise riiuli raamatud Askole magamise ajal kaela kukkunud, Dostojevskiga vastu kulmu, ütles Asko ise ja naeratas kohmetult.
Jan Kaus, “Hetk”
Soon my little habit progressed into a full-on dependency. My markings grew more elaborate — I made stars, circles, checks, brackets, parentheses, boxes, dots and lines (straight, curved and jagged). I noted intra- and extratextual references; I measured cadences with stress marks. Texts that really grabbed me got full-blown essays (sideways, upside-down, diagonal) in the margins. I basically destroyed my favorite books with the pure logorrheic force of my excitement, spraying them so densely with scribbled insight that the markings almost ceased to have meaning. Today I rarely read anything — book, magazine, newspaper — without a writing instrument in hand. Books have become my journals, my critical notebooks, my creative outlets. Writing in them is the closest I come to regular meditation; marginalia is — no exaggeration — possibly the most pleasurable thing I do on a daily basis.
It’s probably natural, here in the 21st century, to fret over the future of literature — to worry that, in an era in which everyone wants everything to be social and interactive, serious reading will be impossible. Yet books are curious objects: their strength is to be both intensely private and intensely social — and marginalia is a natural bridge between these two states. It might end up serving equally well as a bridge between online and literary culture, between focus and distraction: a point of contact that could improve both without hurting either. … Because this yearning for social reading persists. I recently let a friend borrow my copy of David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest,” one of the more compulsively annotated books in my library. Midway through her reading, I needed it back, so she switched to a virginal store-bought copy. The fresh one, she told me afterward, felt a little lonely by comparison: she missed the meta-conversation running in the margins, the sense of another consciousness co-filtering D.F.W.’s words, the footnotes to the footnotes to the footnotes to the footnotes.
This gave me an epiphany — a grand vision of the future of social reading. I imagined a stack of transparent, margin-size plastic strips containing all of my notes from “Infinite Jest.” These, I thought, could be passed out to my friends, who would paste them into their own copies of the book and then, in turn, give me their marginalia strips, which I would paste into my copy, and we’d all have a big virtual orgy of never-ending literary communion.
Last month, Amazon announced what could be a landmark in electronic marginalia: public note sharing for the Kindle — Coleridgean fantasy software that will make your friends’ notes appear (if you want them to) directly on your own books. This is exciting but still a few leaps away from my ultimate fantasy of e-marginalia: the ability to import not just your friends’ notes but notes from all of history’s most interesting book markers. Imagine reading, say, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and touching a virtual button so that — ping! — Ernest Hemingway’s marginalia instantly appears, or Ralph Ellison’s, or Mary McCarthy’s. Or imagine you’re reading a particularly thorny passage of “Paradise Lost” and suddenly — zwang! — up pops marginalia from a few centuries of poets (Blake, Coleridge, Keats, Emerson, Eliot, Pound), with their actual handwriting superimposed on the text in front of you. (If someone’s handwriting gave you trouble, you’d be able to toggle between script and print.) You could even “subscribe” to your favorite critic’s marginalia — get, say, one thoroughly marked-up digital book every month. Or, if you preferred to keep it contemporary, you could just read along with your friends in an endless virtual book club — their notes and your notes would show up on one another’s e-readers the moment they were made.
“What I Really Want Is Someone Rolling Around in the Text” - Sam Anderson. [He also did the “Year in Marginalia”]
I REPEAT: A BIG VIRTUAL ORGY OF NEVER-ENDING LITERARY COMMUNION. HALLELUJAH!