Wednesday, May 6, 2009

John's Library

In the old days when we visited a new friend we always checked the titles on his book shelf to see what really made him tick. We believed books were reliable indicators of the man; that is, what the man thinks about in the privacy of his own thoughts. 

We were a literate generation who studied vocabularies and grammars and penmanship until it came out our ears. After awhile we began to view the world from such a perspective. We noticed irregularities in speech and spelling and crummy penmanship. These things told us something about shared or non-shared experiences.

They also oriented us to the page, that is, to a thoughtful relationship with something held at arm's length. The page that influenced photojournalists and readers around the world also found a place in the common sizes of  8" x 10" and 11" x 14" photographs. 

Photographs were best viewed, we  believed, at arm's length. I still prefer to print my pictures at page size.

So, after his passing, when I viewed John's screen porch library, it felt like I was touching the man again in places where his thoughts and beliefs reside. The titles in his library tell us a lot about the man. Such is the power of books. 

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