Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Marginal Graffiti

Are you the sort of reader who jots notes in the margins of the books that you're reading? Do you underline passages that hit a raw nerve, or witty one liners that you plan to wow your co-workers with at the next office party? Have you ever written something totally unrelated -- say, a phone number or grocery list -- in a book, simply to avoid getting up from the comfortable position you're sitting in?
If so, stand tall. You've nothing to be ashamed of.
Unlike those folks who only open their books partway so as to avoid creasing the binding, you're actually enjoying your reading experience. Hell, you've taken it to the next level, making it an interactive activity. What's more, you've proven yourself to be such an avid reader that while loving and respecting literature, you've also made it into a natural extension of yourself. Think of it this way: you write stuff down on the back of your hand all of the time, don't you? The fact that you're able to draw quick police sketches of shady individuals on the inside cover of your airport read only proves that you are books and books are you.
So to hell with the haters who scoff at scuffed bindings and your corner-of-the-page flip book adaptations. They've never experienced the joy of picking up an old paperback, only to find the pin number to a long lost checking account with fourteen dollars plus interest accrued. Nor have they ever tasted their own vomit after opening up an old book of poetry and seeing their freshman year knockoffs iambic pentametered in the blank spaces.
Sure, you'll never be able to sell (or even give away) your unwanted books for fear of the cringe-worthy secrets that you wrote in the margins seeing the light of day, but honestly, is there really such a thing as an unwanted book? When I look around my dusty old mansion, piled from floor to ceiling with books that might benefit needy schoolchildren, I remind myself that once a book has been vandalized...er, personalized, it's a part of me. As such, the inevitable donation and/or disposal of my ballpoint battered books will be handled under the same stipulation with which I have agreed to donate my organs.
Only after I'm dead.

(For my preferred crematorium and a map to the spot where I'd like my ashes scattered, see the margin of page 152 of my copy of Exquisite Corpse: Surrealism and the Black Dahlia Murder.)