"Can" B. Worth
Feeding the Birds - Part Ten
One of the fragments or alleyways of Dead Can’s book collecting was his …accumulation… of hiding books. This is separate from his collecting/collector fragment or alleyway of… hiding books. He hid his hiding books too. Most of them I found as a layered inclusion in one of his boxes. The actual hiding book collection (accumulation) covered his whole book collecting timeline. For hiding books, he started early and kept at it to the end. The earliest were the “best”; that is… most commercially viable and visually attractive. They were actually more decorative puffery for an interior than a true hiding book. They looked like they should be placed upon the large desk of a gilt age robber baron and ...hold cigars. Or whiskey. They all were… stuffy, scruffy old bindings of books most often a cast off odd volume from a set “published in Paris” and “written in Latin” with a hole cut into the interior pages but retaining their original marbled end papers. The antiques trade is full of them. The few that I found, early on, I gave away. They were too beat up to attract anyone’s eye, including my commercially trained eye.
Dead Can deduced this disinteresting decorative flaw of old hiding books quickly and thereafter adjusted his accumulating to reflect ever more his personal intrigues with hiding books; the book that became a hiding book, the making of that hiding book and… how successful that creation “was”. At first what looked to me as a little weird “did HE MAKE THIS?” chopped up nothing book became, as the number of discoveries increased, an obvious to me that he was “in to these”. He did not make them. He never made one. He wanted to find them. He was very interested in what he found. He studied his finds; scrutinized them well past the intentions of the maker.
That the maker was NOT committed to anything beyond accomplishing the fabrication (as opposed to creation) of a hiding book… presumably for a designated purpose… “maybe” Dead Can qualified… absorbed him; his small inside “mass of energy flicks of voices and pictures” (Feeding the Birds – Part Nine). The book choice, the hole cut, the cutting of that hole, the stopping point of the cut hole, the skill of cutting the hole, the importance of fabricating the hole without disturbing the rest of the book, the completion of the hole and whole book and… the placement of the fabricated hiding book on a shelf and… the creator’s review of it AS a newly fabricated hiding book… absorbed him. Completely. “Was” he said “the text of the book more interesting in this newly edited state.”
That’s… he “said”. Not “asked”. Perplexed by this, the history professor from down the hall was emphatic to me about the said/ask delineation. HE had been the first I heard of Dead Can’s hiding book thing. There WAS one on the desk at the “pretending” office contents inspection. As it was there then, a stand alone junky nothing of a “stupid cut-up hiding book” (my words then)… I not only dismissed IT but also the professors comments about IT ...to the affect that Dead Can “liked those” and then …repeated to me what Dead Can SAID above… that I promptly blew off too until… I was into forming my SECOND box full of …Dead Can’s …lifetime rare booker… gathering… of… actually pretty well discerned …hiding books.
Using for word choice the current popular vogue British “spot on” to discern… HOW DISCERNING Dead Can had been to, again, “spot on” on hiding books… one quietly has to go sit down and rest from the impact of the awe this man detailed his bibliomania with. Earlier I used the “posse” word (Feeding the Birds – Part Eight) so here merge that with “spot on” to carry that to Dead Can who would …puke on the tips of his shoes… rightly at this abysmal wording and BE CORRECT in doing so …as this is… fully and fundamentally demonstrated by his… hiding book …gathering AND his adroit statement about it being “more interesting in this newly edited state”. BOOK COLLECTING was made “more interesting in this newly edited state” BY DEAD CAN. His bibliomania was a …book collecting “make-over”?
All the hiding books I have found: Have noting in them. Are nothing books. Are of no stand alone commercial value. Are of little visual interest. Are “junky” at best. They only became “interesting” …beyond the Dead Can pedigree… after I had “a lot” of them. Now nearing two boxes full… after starting as a small “stack up” then advancing to “get a box for them” and onward to “I need a second box”: Horrified I report that I now ASSURE that I can sell “the collection” to “SOMEONE”… most probably a decorator style dealer in the antiques trade… “as a collection” for them to resell as a “ISN’T THAT NEAT!” “conversation starter” to a MAKE ME PUKE in their heinous “on the water” “summer” “home”. MAKE ME PUKE. On the tips of MY SHOES.
So guess what: They are not for sale. Because. DEAD CAN COLLECTED THEM; found them, preserved them, studied them and FOUND a clairvoyant vision in them that he passed on to us: YOU and ME. They ARE “more interesting in their newly edited state”. And rare. Go try and find one… for sale. NOT a decorator one; a REAL hiding book. It will take the …rest of your life… as a rare book collector to find and purchase two boxes full. And I will NOT sell you an “instant collection”. No. I am going to do JUST WHAT DEAD CAN DID with his WHOLE COLLECTION. I am going to take each single hiding book in the collection and set it out “somewhere” (a “park bench” or “train station”). That’s right: Abandon each single hiding book to its fate… just like Dead Can planned for his whole rare book collection. He knew it “wouldn’t go to the trash” just like I know each one of his hiding books will… not go to the trash. Someone “will find it”.