Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Worn Collars - Part Fifteen (B) - "Density" (A)

Worn Collars

Part Fifteen (B)

"Density" (A)

            “Hunting points.” Arlington said to me... about the Irving KNICKERBOKER... Darby Edition... on the ‘his rare book desk’ in his rare book room... in January... where we are both standing... about to be self-sitted and... it is so cold ‘in there’ (the book room) we can see
            Our breath.
            I said “There are no points”.  I intended “THERE IS NO POINT”.  I...
            OKAY (OK) right here we have an abysmal divide where I ‘go from’ this book room admittance very fast and... so... without considerable ‘explaining’... the reader will not be able to follow what I do, what happens, what this is all about and what is its lasting contribution that this ‘is’ (makes) on bibliomania... and the ever deeper defining of that tattle tale I am ...’streaming’.

            Moving right on with my ‘go from’:  First I skip whatever Arlington mumbles as his response just like I said we (all rare book people in contact with Arlington) do (Part Two) and act on a ‘next’ ‘furtive glance’.  This glance is at ALL of the old rare books Arlee has in the three locked cabinets in his rare book room.  I denote what I seek in one second.  And say noting.  Specifically I denote the blank space in a mid level shelf in the cabinet behind Arlington.  “That’s where” the Irving ‘CAME FROM’; the blank space the exact size of that ‘old book’.  I furtive glance further for another blank space.  I note old acceptable ‘loose’ shelved ‘rare books’; no ‘holes’ to set off an ‘alert’ or... ‘cause concern’.  Now I stop recording my few second action and begin to... ‘explain’.

            Ponderous to ‘explain’?  But worthy of the ‘do this’ ‘a good job’ ‘of it’.  Furtive glance scanning of shelved books denoting “holes” in the shelves where once an old rare book was but has been... “ah...”.... ‘taken out?’ is an automatic process for I “ALWAYS” ‘being done’ “ALWAYS”.  For example, ANY time I am shown a ‘bookcase’ full of ‘old books’ especially if I am being anticipated of “OFFERING ON” (offering to pay money for), the first furtive glance... across a room... is ‘for this’; EMPTY... HOLES in the bookcase.  ‘Usually’ the shelves are full.  ONE or two or three holes are ‘expected’ and ‘ok’... sort of.  AUNTIE JANE “took a few books out to her car an hour before I show up?  I look at the car?  It’s trunk bumper is scraping the ground because Auntie took three BOXES of ‘old books’.  Get it?  I do.  And I LOOK (furtive glance).  And say nothing.
            USUALLY Auntie Jane ‘wouldn’t know a real rare book so wouldn’t take it.  She WOULD take what SHE “thinks” is a “RARE BOOK”.  “BOOKS”.  And she don’t ever let on or fess up to them... ‘holes’ in the shelves of... old rare books.  Take it from there and carry it with you everywhere forever in rare book land; the furtive glance to denote ‘holes’.  I know you’d like to think that these people would “HAVE THE BRAINS” to reset the shelves; put in crummy replacement books and repack the shelf ‘tight’ ...but mostly... they ‘don’t’.  Meanwhile two seconds of this have past for Arlington and I in his rare book room so...

            I blew his ‘hunting points’ thing off TOO during the TWO seconds.  So I now treat that.  “Points” are bibliomaniac in-house action buttons.  A ‘point’ is a single determined anything that a specific rare book ...carrying to a very precise edition of that specific rare book... then on to considerations such as ‘issue’ and ‘printing’... that is used to define that THAT book is ...THAT book because it ‘carries’ ‘that point’.  And all the other points it ‘must have’ too.  A ‘point’ may be ...such as... a ‘broken type’ letter within one word on one page that... spotted by the printer... the press was stopped, the broken letter fixed and printing resumed there by creating a ‘point’ where the broken letter printing of the rare book are understood to ‘have been printed first’ so are ‘an earlier printing’ than the repaired type word printing.  This ...habitual lunacy ...that only bibliomaniac sub group “POINT FREAKS” care about... ‘goes from there’ onto the tiny iota of an ‘any’ old... rare book.  So... Arlington tells me he’s “hunting points” in an ‘old’ Irving KICKERBOKER?  And I ‘furtive glance’ “IDIOT”?  Well... poking this a little harder there are two ways Arlington may be doing this.  The first is to take an established bibliographic record of the collation (pages) of the book that includes all known ‘points’ noted and ...compare... a “HIS COPY” with THAT.  Simple enough but... most ‘old books’ do not have that (a published collation) available for an “I can do that”.  During my furtive glance I ‘weighed’ the “THAT” with Arlee’s ‘old book’.  “No one cares about a collation of that (book) outside of the “making sure all the plates (steel engraved illustrations) are there”.  My furtive glance moved on to ‘holes’

            But there is actually a second way of hunting points and... Arlington St. John could be the charming combined results of the union of biblio-idiot and biblio-asshole that he... would actually “DO (attempt) THAT”.  This procedure is to hunt points for a book YOURSELF.  Redundantly simplified, a bibliomane in his rare book room will take (FOR EXAMPLE) three seemingly identical copies of a book and, setting them side by side, he will very... very-very... carefully go page by page through each side by side copy inspecting for absolutely the absolutely slightest difference(s) of ANY form between ‘the copies inspected’.  Dutifully tabulating the findings... and ‘establishing the priority of printing... ‘issue’... ‘edition’... etc. is the conquest of this very ‘my old rare book room’ ‘activity’ that I here remind that a book man (bibliomaniac) finds to be ‘exciting’ and ‘FUN!’ (Part Ten).  To do. 

            In January.  In his freezing cold rare book room.  So ‘there’s not a chance in Hell’ Arlington’s doing that... and that... my visiting bibliomane ‘furtive glance’ of THAT ‘weighs in’.  Too.  No... it is easier for I to figure Arlee just took any old ‘rare’ book out of the cabinet as a ‘conversation starter’...; a kind of... intentional... WHAT EVER.
            “WHAT EVER” is the MY priority.  Although I am still working in ‘seconds ticking’ and ‘furtive glances’ I need to have the lay reader travel to a distant world... and back to... ‘be up to speed on this’ (my further furtive glances and their “WHY?”).
            This travel is deceptive as a ‘not hard to do’ journey.  For example and returning to my original ‘first rare book room’ contents purchase described earlier (Part Fifteen – A) I assure the reader that in 1974 I did not ‘furtive glance’ ‘check for holes’ those bookcases full of ‘old books’ I was tabulating on my fingers in front of the heirs who, too, contributed to rare book room contents stability by absolutely NOT having taken even ONE ‘old book’ “OUT” of the “LOT”.  That day, long ago... was an easy day:  I bought the books.  I ...’got them out’.  No ‘holes’, no ‘points’ and... no hassles.  I didn’t even know one should look for holes.  I HAD TO LEARN THAT.  ‘Points’ I’d “heard of” but “Ah... I don’t need those” were my “O L” (operating level... of a soon to be bibliomaniac).  The... point... here denoted, is... AGAIN... “LEARN”.  Hence the long journey ahead right here... now.

            When I bought that first old rare book room contents I didn’t know I was doing a “THAT”.  I just thought it was some old dead guy’s bookshelves of his ‘old books’ with a very minimal sprinkle of “YEAH COOL” from both I and the heirs.  But it was, in fact, a very substantial old rare book man’s rare book room contents including his rare book room desk too.  I screwed it up... sort of... “professionally”.  That’s the word for it.  Today I am much more “professionally” about all of this old rare book room buy it.  Back then... I dumped desk drawer contents into bushel baskets.  I boxed up ‘old books’ shelf by shelf and, sort of, hauled the full boxes here and there and... in the barn in January (1975) when I ‘selected’ my first box (all in Part Fifteen – A) I had... NO IDEA what box that was, where, why, how... and... except... that it DID come from somewhere in that ... dust and dead people... old (rare) book room.  That’s it:  That was the deal... I ...set up for myself.  Undoing that vomit on my shoes... but not on my clothes... (Part Fourteen) I never understood to do UNTIL I LEARNED TO.  And... I learned professionally... that ANY ALL from the rare book worlds... could easily denote... I had ‘screwed this up’.  But I...
            Learned better
            Pretty fast
            And qualify this with a ‘just lucky on that I guess’.  I now attempt to pass that to you.

            “Professionally” the state of “density” appears at an ‘old rare book room’.  “NEVER HEARD OF THAT!” you say.  Neither had I.  My first hearings were ...over heard chatter between two ‘better’ rare book... men who, one said to the other; “He has a deep stock”.  That was it right there.  “Deep stock” is “professional density” of... this trickles down to.... an ‘old’ (rare) book man’s old rare book room with his old rare book desk and ‘everything else “IN THERE” “TOO”.  Just like I bought for a sing-song as that ‘my’ first old book room lot.  ‘Density’ is the ...highly positive... highly desired... ‘state’ of the that old book man’s ...old book room.  Density... of... “old books” “IN THERE”.
            OK so back, for touch base moment, to ‘furtive glance’.  Merge that precept with DENSITY... in an old rare book room.  MERGE IT... and... I’ll grant you THREE SECONDS to ‘apply’ it.  There.  NOW.
            “Your done; you now KNOW the ...DENSITY... of that ...old rare book room.  And that is not easy to do... until ‘after you’ve been at it for a while”.  But... “Jesus”... does this “matter”; DENSITY... MATTERS.

            At day one back there in 1974 I had no idea about ‘matters’ or about “IT” (“density”) even being a... what?  Factor?  Consideration?  An “Ah....”?  A ...tabulation... done in seconds?  By furtive glance?  No... and ‘no way’.  NOW, Christmas Trees, I
            By furtive glance
            In seconds.
            And how... did I ‘do that’ (learn this).
            I learned it from a dead man.
            I was doing just fine gobbling up the contents of various ‘old’ (rare) book men’s old rare book room entire contents.  I did that.  It was ‘no brainer’.  Then I ‘got it out’... and IN (built) the boxed up rare book fortress in the barn.  Then I, one box at a time... “went through it”.  I was good at this.  And it was easier because the heirs almost always felt (“THINK”) the old book ‘dust and dead people’ duffer whose room that was... was... “way CRAZY” so... ‘like’ “YOU’LL BUY ALL OF IT?  GREAT!”
            But... one day... a man showed up in my yard who... demonstrated to me an entire different way of ‘doing this’.  I learned this from him... after he ...demonstrated to me... “density”.


  1. Maybe I'll sneak just a few strawberries from the basket, Mom will never notice. (?)

  2. At the very moment when AUNTIE JANE boxed those "few books" they became so-ooooooooo much more valuable.