essay#4

On Thursday January 21 (2021) around 2 in the afternoon I brought back a book that I had taken earlier from the table where the library staff puts the books that no longer have a place in the library collection. There is a paper on the table stating that it is not to be used as a return box for library books (“please do not leave your library loans here”). Clearly that does not apply to the book I had taken earlier, since that was not a library loan. Even more, it was no longer part of the library collection as such. So I returned the book. Someone else can take it home now, or it can be swapped for another one.

The book, however, has been used by me. After I had taken it home, I glued all its pages together. So currently, it cannot be opened anymore. You cannot leave through its pages. You cannot get that quick impression of its contents by randomly opening the book. You can no longer smell the traces of all the library guests that had already used the book before I laid my hands on it. However, it is still a book, or at least, it is something that (still) looks like a book. If you want to, you can even read it. It is titled Formele logica: Een informele inleiding (Formal Logic: An informal introduction) and was written in 1970 by Dirk van Dalen, a former philosophy professor in historical aspects of logic and philosophy of mathematics at the Utrecht University. A quick internet survey led me to a full text copy of the formally informal book on the Internet Archive (https://archive.org/details/formele-logica/mode/2up). At the moment I returned it to the table, it had received 23 online views. Perhaps my action of gluing the book can be considered as a case of book abuse rather than use. But I would like to think of it as something different, as a change in the book’s sensuous potential. It feels slightly different now, it doesn’t bend the way a softcover normally does and it doesn’t immediately reveal (not even in an informal way) what it has to say.

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