Friday, August 31, 2007

Wheat and chaff

Casting a ruthless eye to one's library, especially in the light of a very long move, leads to some interesting discussions. What complicates things is that there are two conversations at work--what can I get rid of wholesale (and the concomitant question of "how?"), there is also "what can I take with me?" The results have been...interesting. Mostly it's a matter of giving up, grudgingly, some side interests. I don't need seven books right now on German, I need an actual desire to learn to read German.

I need one translation project text and that's it. In May of 2005 I was translating Czech with a book, my dictonary, a red pen, and the back of an e-ticket confirmation in the Vienna airport. (I still have those integrated into the notebook I'd run out of space in, naturally.) I don't now need three Čápek plays, say, even if they are Czech postwar editions, even if one is R.U.R, which I might want to read at some stage, it's just distraction. I hope this streamlining is good for productivity. (Now, don't think I'm trashing these other texts, oh no. They'll be kept.)

I guess the more I look at it, the more it's how many books I take with me, versus how many I leave behind, with an eye, to borrow a phrase, towards radical parcimony. I'm even toying (halfheartedly) with the idea of leaving my giant Czech dictionaries at home, though that would leave me at the mercy of the Internet for my word-finding needs. I might even leave some Fuks behind. That's unlikely too, but this feels like a healthy streamlining instead of a purge.

Ten more days of work.

EDIT: I think I can get everything I want to take with me, books-wise, into a single paper box. It's hurt, and it will hurt, but there's a lot of good in there. Nick, heads up that you may be getting another box of mailed books, if you're so inclined.

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