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Archive for February 25th, 2009

February 25th, 2009 • Posted in On Collecting

Philobiblon and Collecting Books about Book Collecting

Richard de Bury Image from here.

This from Melbourne Australia-based antiquarianbookseller Kay Craddock:

"The book arts and the history of printing, publishing and bookselling fall within this genre, as do books that recount the trials, tribulations and triumphs of individual book collectors. Indeed, some book lovers only collect books about book collecting. Books which systematically record the physical and textual components of other books according to a set criterion are known as ‘bibliographies’. These can range from simple checklists of a genre or single author, to a line by line account of the printing, paper and binding style of all the books written by and about an author.

The first book about book collecting is attributed to a 14th century book-loving bishop, Richard de Bury (1287–1345). His Philobiblon—a treatise on the love of books— was first printed at Cologne in 1473. It was first translated into English in 1598–9, edited by Thomas James. Many editions have since been published. The best English translation of Philobiblon, published in 1888 with the Latin text and with full biographical and bibliographical introductions, is by E. C. Thomas. In recent decades there has been an increased emphasis on scholarly and popular books on the subject of book collecting, and both out-of-print and new books are important to the collector."

Here’s what I have:

February 25th, 2009 • Posted in Authors and Books

Re-creation and How to Appreciate Art and Literature


This from John Dewey (with whom I’ve just learned, I share a birth date! Update: Just the month and the day)’s Art as Experience:

"For to perceive, a beholder must create his own experience. And his creation must include relations comparable to those which the original producer underwent. They are not the same in any literal sense. But with the perceiver, as with the artist, there must be an ordering of the elements of the whole that is in form, although not in details, the same as the process of organization the creator of the work consciously experienced. Without an act of recreation the object is not perceived as a work of art. The artist selected, simplified, clarified, abridged and condensed according to his interest. The beholder must go through these operations according his point of view and interest. In  both, an act of abstraction, that is, an act of extraction of what is significant, takes place. In both there is comprehension in its literal signification –that is, a gathering of details and particulars physically scattered into an experienced whole. There is work to be done on the part of the percipient, as there is on the part of the artist. The one who is too lazy, idle, or indurated in convention to perform this work will not see or hear. His ‘appreciation’ will be mixture of scraps of learning with conformity to norms of conventional admiration and with a confused, even if genuine emotional excitation."

Fine, one can either passively absorb a work of art in bits and pieces and be little moved by it, or actively engage with it, mix it with your opinions, knowledge, experience, seek the unity it may be striving to achieve, the emotional whole it may be trying to convey, and be profoundly affected. But surely it is incumbent upon the artist to first create work that makes me want to spend time with it. To first capture my attention, hold and warrant my interest; to make the bauble pretty enough, fascinating enough to convince the perceiver to want to recreate, to select, clarify, etc. according to her interest. This doesn’t mean it should be easy to comprehend, just that it should cater to my curiosity, appeal to what captivates, intrigues.