"Can" B. Worth
Feeding the Birds
Part One - The Outside
It was the outside… that caused the building of the inside… and that inside… was built inside a larger inside… and this larger inside was built by the one who built the smaller inside… while they built that smaller inside. Both the smaller inside and the larger inside were built to keep out the outside. Both insides were never completed and they were never intended to be completed but were forever “work in progress”.
When Dead Can first “came to collecting rare books”… he was one of the “outside” the rare book community. He… only a few years after “he came”… shortened his description of himself to “came to rare books”. He discovered very early that he could never actually “collect” rare books and corrected his self description to himself. Dead Can was polished at not engaging self delusion. He could not collect rare books, he discerned, because he did not have enough money to collect them. This never bothered him. The big world of the inside of rare books perpetually fascinated him and fully engaged him. Rare books never faltered. Rare books, for Dead Can, were a wholeness that included peeking into the old Tyrolean’s candy box AND sitting on his steps for three hours. Soon after “coming to rare books” (the larger inside), the “outside” where he started… “floated away”
It actually did not float away at all. It actually became an obsessive demon pursuing him and endeavoring, to the day he died, to bring him back to being an outsider. He skillfully avoided this and was genuinely unaware of how strategically escalated the struggle had become. He did not perceive that he had fabricated two inner worlds to “defend himself from it”.
If Dead Can had not been as brilliant, as educated and as successful within the education industry AND completely, knowingly, actively alive and at home in the social action of that education industry community, he well could have found the terrain more difficult. As it was, the book was an “automatic” in his world. To step IN to a smaller world of “rare books” was NOT “odd” for a professional man like Dead Can. No one noticed or cared. Except one person.
At first Dead Can’s handling of his new and growing …interest… in rare books blended casually with his whole persona in the “outside”. An old book here and there caused no notice. “Babbling about a rare book” anything; a summarial notice by the outside toward an inside rare booker, was not a problem because it appeared to “stop” and “go away” and everything was “normal”. The Christmas tree was decorated, the grandparents were invited to hold the babies, the gas was always in the car, the doors were locked and …even though there seemed to be an “old book” around here and there, they were of no consequence and “picked-up”.
It was when this last started to stop… that “the problem” began. “The problem” was defined by the outside first. The old books around and …around and… NOT picked up attracted attention from Dead Can’s …wife. She started with a “WHAT are these OLD BOOKS EVERYWHERE” self observation that was only lightly commented upon in a “should be” picked-up situation …every now and then but… increasingly more often. THIS held steady until a curious inkling on her part prompted the self suggestion that “funds” were “a little short” meaning that the paycheck incoming seemed to have more money on it than she was actually finding “at hand”. She self-audited with a pencil and an index card. Funds were missing. “WHERE COULD THEY HAVE GONE?”. She began a reconnaissance. This took a while because the …culprit… was “SO UNBELIEVEABLE” that “THOSE OLD BOOKS” “COST THAT MUCH” once SHE privately flushed “THIS” “INTO THE OPEN” “WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR DOING?” Dead Can defended this discovery and direct assault by… “I need them for my work” and… taking his rare book purchasing “underground”. Forever. The wife simply sharpened her eye AND her ability to locate the penciled dealer’s price on the inside of a “old book “ “CAN YOU BELIEVE HE PAID THAT FOR THAT!”. Right here, there, now and then… began a FIFTY YEAR WAR “against” “rare books”. On the surface; the social, the professional, the community, the in-house and the …personal relationship… ALL remained “standard” to all eyes and… the “each other”. Behind that façade, just steaming hot inches away was… “war”. Initially “over money”, Dead Can’s skillful adaptation of …spending “no money” “on books” quickly altered the demon eye to “any old book” and “ANYTHING” about “old books” “THEY HAVE RUINED MY LIFE”. The only good rare book… to this clearly demarked “outside” view was a …rare book… “in the trash can”. To Dead Can, this “outside” “just floated away”?