Information Sinkhole: orientation room under welcome mat
TMI ZONE–TOO MUCH INFORMATION Ahead!
Warning. Those with fear of heights may want to detour around all TMI zones, where more information can meet the eye (“like a big piece of pie”) just as more depth meets the feet–thanks to our Door-in-the-Floor “Bottomless Scroll” (BS) filing system. In place of Dewey’s decimals, our fractional language is organized horizontally in semi-vertical stacks, scrolls, piles, & piles of scrolls. A storage method with unusually irregular topography, it enables our virtual librarians to serve the holistic community more hole-heartedly.
In any case, the TMI Zone (here &/or wherever else appearing) is not meant for beginners, nor first-time visitors, nor for people of set convictions or unstable mind, let alone for serious seekers of information, insight, or potentially useful inspiration, but for those in the business of Too Much Information, at home in stacks & labyrinths, or, like our author-in-residence, compelled to explore more deeply, we’ve left this TMI Zone open….
What You Don’t Need to Know to Enjoy the Bod
About the Bod–what we’re NOT, & why
In case you haven’t noticed, this Bod Library is not Oxford’s Bodleian, nor connected to the Bishop O’Dowd (BOD) School library or to the Books On Demand (B.O.D.). We have fewer books & far fewer visitors, as well as a comparatively negligible operating budget. On the other hand, we may actually have (i.e., under our non-management) more acreage (at least wilder), with more resident birds, and better collections of certain authors, mainly ones these others have never heard of (e.g., Yours Crudely).
“I now have a library of over 900 volumes, 700 of which I wrote myself,” reported Henry David Thoreau after unsold copies of A Week on the Concord & Merrimack Rivers, his self-published book, had been delivered. We haven’t counted ours, neither volumes in toto, nor the ones we wrote (&/or published) ourselves, nor have a way to account for what’s being written, re-written, &/or deleted more or less daily.
If we did count, the ratio of our own to the total would be different in physical space from what’s up on-line. Relatively few of our vast total of physical books are home-written, though the ones that are are not likely found elsewhere. Most of our on-line content, by contrast, is original & available here only.
What are we? (&/or are we not?)
Besides not being the Bodleian, Bishop O’Dowd or B.O.D., we are also not: a) a lending library; b) a bookmobile; c) an accredited college; d) a derivative exchange &/or federal debt depositary; e) open to the public (except by private arrangement); f) an endowed institution with trained staff & upper management.
Any attempt to describe & define who, what or even where the Bod quickly faces Yogi’s Big Fork: one kind of reality in the physical world, with gps coordinates; another kind on-line; one kind in the conventional biographical blurb about the architect, another in the building itself. Yet these two are not entirely separate either, intersecting at nodes & knots in the complex neuron to neuron network (Tinker to Evers to Chance, Rubik cubed), in the shared jewel-mind at the heart of the world…..
We’ll discuss the physical realm elsewhere. In the virtual realm, however, we fall somewhere between: experiment & experience; exploration & discovery; research museum & work of art (with its own architecture, language, & changing exhibitions); collection of messages (some still in bottles); & basement bistro-bodega in a labyrinth of barrels, with whatever the active crock, bucket or little stage has to share–(Play it again, Slam” in one ear & Rick’s haiku out the other.)
~~~~pop!/ bubbles & balloons after–/ the cork
You might say that the virtual Bod Library-On-Line is an edificeless complex of networked websites, each with pages (rooms), posts, illuminated (&/or skylit) topic areas, variously designed for browsing & schmoozing, pleasures of nature & art, entertainments of history, time & mind, the comic relief of our humor lab, with niches for wherever chance takes our plotless wanderings. (But if you did, you might be called long-winded, or worse.)
For short, the Bod’s our best current shot at organizing the known world in ways of shared value–to us in the doing; to you in…whatever floats your boat, or if not your boat exactly, someone wiser’s. Unlike a Bodleian, the Bod Library does not expect to be all things to all people. Why, we don’t claim to be all things even to one person–but if we were, and that person were Yours Crudely, we’d expect to change hats, topics of interest, focus, tastes, moods, needs & pages from time to time.
One who contemplates the environment one moment may turn mountain & river songs into poetry the next, then play historian & social observer over dinner, then reporter describing the Bod Library’s view of itself from The Mirror Times Mirror Building later.
WHAT’S a LIBRARY, after all? Trying to understand what we are to share with you, we asked our friends at Dick’s Handy Random Pocket Dictionary (also called the Pinhead) what a LIBRARY was, and were told “It depends.” Depends on what? “Depends on when, where, by whom, to whom, & in what context. Words are slippery that way.”
Take the when & where for openers. The ‘libraries’ on your computer & down the street perform different functions in different ways; so does the Library of Congress & Ma’s Lending Library on Shirley Avenue long ago. Some think the word library comes from “a collection of lies,” perhaps due to an unfair association with congress, but in fact, the word can be tracked back through the Latin liber for ‘book,’ initially from the inner bark of a tree, thence the Greek & its alleged Indo-European root leubh-, “to peel off.”
Following that logic, a library was originally a “strip joint,” or place for peeling away lies. Joking aside, in botanical circles, the term libriform retains its connection to the inner bark of trees, designating “a form with elongated woody fibers & simple pits.” Some of the world’s most valuable libraries still have more to do with fibers & pits than books, card catalogs, or words at all–a home for seed-banks & wild country specimens, flash drive architecture, artifact repositories, pit collections, gee-gas galleries & still life archives with Rubik cubicles, sand gardens, aviaries & performance spaces….
Libraries have rarely (if ever) been just for “books,” but have also housed scrolls, clay pots & tablets, inscribed bones, newspapers & magazines, audio & video collections, frescoes & prints, dissertations & journals, researchers, scribes, librarians, browsers, day-dreamers, toys, children, students, cats, clubs & societies. (Ma’s Shirley Ave Lending Library in Revere had a Seconds Dress Shop in the adjoining room, but not in the same space.).
There’s a magic in library access a child might feel even before being able to make sense of the words, the smell of the ink & paper, the sense of mysteries within, thought, information & worlds squeezed together in each volume on each shelf, one shelf over another as far as the eye can see….
Never mind for the moment the misinformation, fallacies, frauds & perversities also squeezed together there (whether in asides, behind locked glass, or wrapped in plain paper under the counter), also shedding light on the world for those interested. Even Ma’s library (48 Shirley Avenue, Revere) kept some wrapped “adult-special-interest” volumes under the counter, reserved for known customers–like a local priest the girls called “Father Murray,” who allegedly rented them “on behalf of a sick parishioner.”
The question of what’s “proper” can be a thorny one for librarians. Where the pleasures of reading, looking & listening are involved, who’s to make the choice? While Sister Prudence (“our Eros Fellow”) would have us adopt the motto “If in doubt, leave it out,” we also consult Walt Whitman, Mae West, Henry Miller, Anais Ninn, members of the Friggin Family Folk Revival Conspiracy & the Committee Against Censorshit in the Arts (CACA).
In live events like poetry readings, we used to consider each audience & event, keeping our Alice in Wonderlands separate from our Hot Poetry Slam Socials, our Mama Goose Stories from our finger-licking Chick Lit Hours–though guest authors didn’t always cooperate, in which case we were less likely to invite them back (without making a bigger deal about it).
Sometimes the invisible line between proper & not depends on what worn at that time, or what’s not worn, even what hat–jester’s, teacher’s, scholar’s, poet’s…. There are stories about a distinguished Harvard professor who lived in a glass building. Although he often walked around in the altogether, he rarely drew his curtains. Neighbors having a gathering across the small courtyard called him one evening & asked him to draw his curtains or put something on. According to the tale, he readily agreed, disappeared & came back wearing his hat. If the view offended them, then they should draw their curtains.
A historian, like a scientist, tries to shed light on whatever’s observed & reported, letting the reader judge whether this is negative or positive, insightful or ignorant. It’s what is, or was, that counts first, and then the why, the how, the wherefore. It’s ingenuous to claim that an ordinary library doesn’t try to discriminate which is which, but the standards tend to be loose. In any case, we’ve already determined the Bod is not an ordinary library, so we try to have only the highest standards for all our content.
Then we try again the next time we have to read what’s here, or eat our own cooking. We delete more than we add, compost more than we eat. Yet we continue to grow (e.g., some of our own spices, in the Bloom Memorial Bird-fertilized Herbarium). We used to brew our own rice-wine, too, fresh from the crock, using a simple old family recipe we’ll pass along when we can. Indeed, it oiled many poetry gatherings, starting with the one that launched Around an Old Pond at the Aspen Grove bookstore, where we drank the fruit of our crock made together with ingredients from the same neighbors who made the poems. (It also lubricated many programs “in Basho’s hat.”
The dual association between Basho’s & home-made saké, both perhaps implicit in the word spirit, may fit the root lineage of the Bod name, which the Pinhead Dictionary traces to & from its ancient Indo-Aryan roots–through northern European bode, town crier or herald, & bodner, messenger, into forboding, a kind of pre-announcement, the Hungarian bodnar, barrel-maker (from bod, the barrel, & nar or nerd, the maker), Spanish bodega (place with casks & barrels) in one direction, & Sanskrit bodhi & bodhisattva in another. (Never mind bodice, bodkin & bodfish for now.)
Message carrier & wine barrel may be kissing cousins with spirits, caskets & vessels of truth, in other words. Yet there’s that old saying in the performing arts, “If it’s a message you’ve got to deliver, send a telegram.” Theater people are often wary of messaging. Plays are for what doesn’t fit in a telegram or a political speech, even if the play itself contains both. Whatever else they may or may not contain, ostensibly represent or portray, works of art qualify as such only by offering something besides & apart from message, including pleasures particular to the vehicle, the vessel, the art in general & work in the particular.
The arts as arts may have more in common with the barrels that hold the wine (or bottles with worms, buckets with moons, cups with stars) than with messages in bottles, information in telegrams, stock prices in newspapers, morals to stories, or what we say about it. Call whatever flows through inspiration, idea, imagination, or dream of these; the artistic vehicle has its own body, known from the senses, what we see (on the wall or on the page), hear (in the mind’s ear), feel (in that suffering, ecstatic place) or imagine (as from within or without).
Despite drawing upon many of the same aspects & attributes, the “non-commercial” arts differ from advertising, packaging & marketing, political slogans & military dispatches, any of which may become artistic content while all draw on artistic talents & techniques to punch up their hooked messages. Some might say the arts use lures without hooks, but others that the hooks are simply of a different order.
Container & content can both make a difference–or become one in artistic transmission, the how along with the what, end & means, being & impact, each fulfilled in the other. As the container pours its spirits forth for those imbibing (in whom the real action takes place), it, too, vaporizes, becomes imbibed content.
Not that libraries are bars, or lounges–though Yours Crudely has personally imbibed in more than one liquorish watering-hole that called itself “The Library.” (The first was in San Francisco, tagging along with John Crawford, who was writing an article on the place for The Wall Street Journal.) Still, a library can have many aspects, even a Bodhi tree in the garden. A lot depends on what’s happening at the time, and what the visitor’s looking for, something the visitor needn’t know in advance–any more than the writer before the writing, especially in THIS kind of library.What kind of library is that, grasshopper?
This is the kind that a) speaks for itself, like any work of art; b) must be experienced to be believed, let alone appreciated; c) could not have existed before the modern cloud; d) delivers (straight to the eyeball, eardrum, drive-thru, hypo-campus, cafe’ amygdala, solar plexus amusement park, house of mirrors…); e) exists in the shared neural network-multi-personal world intertidal zone recreation area; f) fractures the architecture of the book as previously known; g) gives pages, rooms, wings, virtual vessels, casks & vehicles new dimensions; h) never closes; i) fits on the smallest point of a pinhead, with plenty of room for a dictionary, encyclopedia, business & organization directory, divine revelation, zen telegram-hundred page haiku-&-half-baked-fortune-cookie collection left over.
More on those messages later, & perhaps on the messenger, but now too busy just trying to deal with the mess. “With such a mess, there should be a pony in here somewhere, ready to join the pony express to carry all kinds of messages & goodies, even if you have to bring-your-own-bucket. As Omar Barker’s father used to say when he & his brother were heading off into the wild mountain country in winter, “If you get lost, just send me a telegram.”
In terms of the Bod Library, if you get lost, just look for the nearest self-reference section with a map to the Mirror-Times-Mirror Map-room, where an Alice Little Fellow will help you turn that old half-lie–The Map Is Not the Territory–on its head.
So who are we?
The editorial we do our best to disappear into the work, thought & flow, but are (or were once) actual people, too, starting with Yours Crudely, our revered founder & current head of the Bod Library’s More-On-Club. (More on this bod fellow later, if/when we get around to it.)
With the universe in sight & a library for form (& all the crazy wide-world to riff & rant on), the editorial “we” remain mainly a one-writer shop, messenger, absinthe barrel, old sake’ crock, yours crudely, a mutually imagined creature more or less reflected in the creation.
Where are the virtual we?
Here in an almost timeless zone, one moment at one with the ancients (practically already dead), the next with the future (the best you yet to be), appearances, changes & disappearances become virtual representations of an ephemeral mind reflecting on the mirrored world we walk through, sometimes hand in hand with Alice, sometimes under the blind man’s hat, whatever its color.
Through the glass flowers & past the Museum of Misinterpretations, imaginary Bod Fellows play real writers, artists & professional imposters portraying fictional characters dressed up as actual people in search of authenticity on-, off- & back-stage. Whether the genuine or the genuine imitation substitute, world once removed & seemingly found again or elusive realm of immediate sensation snagged in virtually still translation (the live moment seen in neuro-electrical activity imagery with glucose uptake stains, for one example), where even the permanent exhibits remain in some flux.
Information on our physical plane (& more personal biography, eventually) may be found in the MAS drop-downs. More relevant to where we are now, however, is where our L-O-L, Library-On-Line, a work in progress, is going; where our motto used to be”The rest is yet to come (including, but not limited to, the best),”now we’re not so sure.
“I am of two minds,” said the Ersatz Library. “One, with mirrored skin, faces the world, 360 degrees plus infinite sky, give or take a few doors, windows, scaffolds, sky-divers & prank banners. The other faces inward, with mirrors of its own, & windows, & teleconferencing rooms linked with anywhere (thanks to our archives & translation services), various wheres & whens; plus stages, stacks & studios; virtual labs & sparkling lavatories with mirrors of their own.
In a recent study sponsored by the Andrew Carpool Tunnel Institute, researchers found that even ordinary physical libraries were usually a lot more than shelves of books & card catalogs. A modern library not only houses computer terminals, monitors, books & magazines, for example, but also art galleries, meeting places, talks & performances, seminar & exercise rooms, enlightenment halls, zen gardens, cafe’, nut & juice bar, gift shop, planetarium, terrarium, aviary, & reptile space. Some even have their own cruise lines for armchair adventurers, as well as bus & bicycle tours to historic sites in old books.
Why are we? (our humble purpose…)
A library must ask itself that question, particularly when designing its own virtual architecture–whether form follows function, goes off on its own, or lets function follow it at a polite distance. The question becomes all the more pertinent for an imaginary “research library” like ours, imagined into existence to better understand (& derive pleasure from) the world around (within & through) us, & to pass that information, pleasure, understanding, & enlightenment (if any) along, or hold it at the ready for just the right seeker.
Our Bottom Line
Bod Library has no axes to grind, nor parties to push, nor platforms to stand on. Our only mission is to: a) wise you up; b) bring you pleasure; c) promote the greater good; d) save the world one tripping point at a time; e) make its own archives, projects & offerings more widely available–in this once-in-a-lifetime limited time offer: “Take it or leave it.”
According to an anonymous source in Miss Fortune Magazine, “the Bod Library’s comprehensive business plan lacks only one element for complete success–namely, revenue. Management claims, this allows it to operate close to the bone, with a minimum of professional staff & a maximum of creative attention (i.e., nose to the bump & grindstone), giving it a competitive advantage, potentially leading to something bankable eventually.
Perhaps sharper heads with spreadsheets to match will force librarians down from their ladders to reconsider the current ban on all ads (except for our own), or consider selling the endorsements it now gives away. After all, say the ad-advocates, public busses & trains sell ad space. Why shouldn’t libraries, parks & toilets (where there are any), if only to cover costs of upkeep? Not being a public facility, however, nor having a marketing department, the Bod has not had to confront such issues head on–at least yet.
Should we ever receive “consideration” for any recommendation, endorsement, or product promotion, you can rest assured we will tell you (or disclose it in fine print on the label kept in a safe in our imaginary attorney’s office). That goes only for ACTUAL PRODUCTS, however, as we have little to no control over what deals our Imaginary Agency Placement staff has or hasn’t worked out on their own, on the sly, or on the fictional side of the ledger. As a member in good standing of BPENS, the Boondoggle Peninsula’s Ethical News Society, we hope to retain the loyalty, confidence & trust of our readers (if any).
[By way of “full frontal disclosure,” it may be noted that Miss Fortune Hunter Magazine, part of Timeless, Lifeless & Loose Enterprises, a spinoff of the Under the Table Investments & Promotions global media empire, currently has a confidential offer of undisclosed benefits for “non-disparaging references to Miss Fortune Hunter Magazine, UTIP, Timeless, Lifeless & Loose Enterprises…”]
“It’s easy to say you can’t be bought when no one’s making any offers.” –Gail Oppenheimer
“A press that can’t be bought has a hard time staying in business.” –The Bankruptcy Press Guidebook
“That’s why we’re a library with a little press rather than a press with a limited library.” –Virtual Bod ‘L-O-L’ (Librarian-On-Line)
In formal terms, this means we have no clear bottom line, if any at all, as some floors may hold Shanghai doors to drop-down rooms under throw rugs, while others double as glass ceilings for those below (as well as mirrors for those above), particularly where the Bod Library & Mirror Times Mirror occupy the same office space shared with MAPA Systems, which actually has a variety of revenue-generating activities (including some related to market mapping, translation royalties & poetic licensing).
Those who have known us before we became a library may still think of us (if at all) as: Land of Enchantment Poetry Theater; the New Mexico Humanities Council’s Alias Aldo Leopold-Ansel Adams-Rawhide Rick- &-American Basho; Leaky Buckets Music; Land of Enchantment Games; Mountain Apple Press; Mapa Systems; &/or the staff & mismanagement thereof.
Before these, the same “staff” taught writing, world literature, & activity-based communication skills at New Mexico Highlands University; U. of Nevada, Reno; Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Pondicherry, India; Selwyn School, Denton, Texas; having earlier still served as Peace Corps volunteer (in agriculture, India 37), intern (The Wall Street Journal), managing editor & advisor (The Harvard Yardling), wandering correspondent (The Malagueña), student journalist (The Hermonite) & school literary magazine contributor (After Lights).
Along the way, the library’s senior “messenger,” bodner &/or Bod Fellow, has played poet, philosopher, historian, ecologist, photographer, humorist, editor, coach, game & simulation designer, guide, sidekick, even actor, yet remained writer & student at heart throughout (“however slow a learner”). This “library” may stand as in tribute to what he hasn’t learned, especially conciseness, & keeping his mouth shut. (“There’ll be plenty of time for silence soon enough.)
Build a shelf, & books will fill it, eventually stacks, piles, trinkets, stones, skeletons, & dust of the ages, along with urns with scrolls, boxes of letters, clippings from newspapers & magazines, cassettes & cd’s, bird feathers & flash drives. Build a virtual library, on the other hand, and who knows what will show up?