Sunday, November 27, 2005

Marginalia

I have some pet peeves. I don't have enough to be the peeve equivalent of the crazy cat lady, but I have some. Like when I look in the sink and there are remnants of dinner from two nights ago in the drain, or when people in the airport are looking every which way but the one they are going, or when bank tellers, retail workers, etc. have to compete with customers' cell phone conversations.

But I think my biggest one is People Who Take Notes In Library Books.

Some people apparently think it is their prerogative to decorate text with yellow highlighter pens. Others apparently cannot read without underlining entire paragraphs in pencil, blue ballpoint, or red felt-tip. Then they make notes in the margins that, if legible, often have very little to do with the actual subject of the book. It's like finding "♥♥♥TRISHA AND GERALD FOREVER♥♥♥" in your ninth-grade biology textbook and having no idea when anyone named Trisha (or Gerald) last went through your high school.

My lovely wife and I own hundreds of books. We have more books than we have room for bookshelves. In fact, when we moved into our current home, I had to re-box a lot of my books, and she still has boxes of books left to sort through. So, due to the limits of space (not to mention finances), she gets the books she needs for school from the library. These books are full of underlinings, asterisks, question marks, and footnotes--none of which were set in type. Occasionally she comes across marginalia like

NO MENTION OF BAPTISMAL PRIESTHOOD! EGREGIOUS OMISSION!

and

HOW POST-MODERN!

and underlining marathons like

Today's world is multicultural, and since globalization does not mean exclusively a Westernization of the world, it is correct to say that the total world is being inculturated in and through a multicultural fusion of horizons. Cultural ways of thinking and cultural meaning structures are currently interactive. Thus, to speak of the world as a sacrament may have little meaning for a culture in which the very word "sacrament" is missing. Nor can theologians argue that most cultures have a unique symbol system in and through which the term "sacrament" becomes meaningful. When the word "sacrament" in the framework of these same theological traditions means only two rituals or only seven rituals, or the term "sacrament" refers only to the Roman Catholic Church or only to the Christian Church, or the term is only applied to a Jewish individual, namely Jesus, then "sacrament" has no facile entree into a non-Western culture simply on the basis of a given culture's symbolic framework. The exclusivity inherent in the term "sacrament," when used this way, precludes any meaningful relationship to the symbol system of a non-Christian culture.

The page of which I type is number 56 of Kenan Osborne's Christian Sacraments in a Postmodern World (New York: Paulist, 1999). This Christian stuff is still a mystery to this blogging Jewish chick. However, I have to snicker that someone accused a book about the post-modern era of being post-modern.

People. Library books belong to everyone. In fact, sharing knowledge is why we have libraries. For personal reflection, we have spiral notebooks, steno pads, composition books, lined journals... If underlining paragraphs and scrawling in the margins are necessary for your reading process, may I introduce you to amazon.com. If you'd still like to deface public property, get a can of paint and find a wall. Don't let everyone else's tax dollars, tuition payments, or endowments enable your resistance to learning the academic social graces.

1 comment:

CWBK said...

I am *so* with you on this one! Since I have moved to 'da 'burgh, I have had to rely on the local CC Mellor Memorial Library for my literary needs... http://einetwork.net/ein/ccmellor/
Let's just say, Pittsburghers like to highlight! aarrgghh!

Keep the posts coming, SWGB! I love to hear your snarky comments!! :>)