Friday, November 17

Tristan Gylberd on Bookstores

"Browsing is but one of the many time-honored traditions that have been heedlessly cast aside amidst the hustle and bustle of modernity. Nevertheless, it is a habit that seems almost as natural as breathing in a bookstore. Whether it is a fine old antiquarian dealer with dusty shelves, dark labyrinthine rooms, and hidden treasures amidst every stack or a familiar neighborhood shop featuring fresh coffee, warm conversations, and the latest bestsellers, readers relish the comfortable haunts of their determined hunts nearly as much as they love the books they ultimately find there."

"A bookstore is an earthly elysium. In some strange way, it seems to represent so much of what man aspires to and it embodies so much of what man yearns for. Like a well-stocked library, a good used bookstore can be a sort of nexus of piety and sensuality, of holiness and seduction. Such sanctuaries from the hustle bustle of everyday life are in some sense cenacles of virtue, vessels of erudition, arks of prudence, towers of wisdom, domains of meekness, bastions of strength, and thuribles of sanctity as well as crucibles of dissipation, throne rooms of desire, caryatids of opulence, repositories of salaciousness, milieus of concupiscence, and trusses of extravagance."

"The creative arts consist of signs. Thus, if images are, as Aristotle long ago asserted, the literature of the layman, then books consist of signs of signs. And thus, bookshops consist of signs of signs of signs. They are thus, the truest of all the creative arts—combining rhythm, tone, structure, progression, logic, melody, heft, texture, redolence, cipher, perspective, harmony, balance, epic, symbol, emblem, saga, craftsmanship, hue, lyric, form, function, ballad, and sanctity. They are united in their variety and varied in their unity, unique in their diversity and diverse in their apt assembly. They are sustained by a law at once heavenly and worldly. The rich fragrance of hand-oiled Moroccan leathers, the visual panoply of deep natural hues, the effluvium of fine vellum, the hollow ring of sequestered silence, the sacred spectacle of light filtered through high dusty windows, and the hush of monkish thoughtfulness combine to grant fine antiquarian bookstores an air of amplitude. The total effect is of a concert of alluring terrestrial beauty and majestic supernatural signals."

5 comments:

Mark said...

Please, who is this guy so oft quoted?

Diane V. said...

I know, but I'll never tell!

Ben said...

I wonder how Mr. Gylberd would describe surfing the net for books. It has certainly made finding rare and used books much easier. But in one sense, it is like the game preserves that feed and fatten the game and then allow hunters to pay to hunt in the feeding ranges: The true sport is gone. And it is hard to wax eloquent about clicking a mouse and thus filling a shopping cart. Mr. Gylberd and I have both been blessed with the opportunities of exchanging covetous glances at portions of each other's personal libraries.

Inkling said...

All I know is that Mr. Gylberd always seems to clean out all the "Q" from my favorite bookshops right before I get there....

Brian said...

It will be a sad day when the web eats up all the bookstores and we have no place to experience all the things you just talked about, although in todays bookstores all I hear are people on their cell phones, talking way to loud, out of control children running around and someones St. Bernard licking my leg, in a time when the world has become increasing careless about respecting others,amazon looks better and better.