Saturday, September 13, 2008

Books Nailed To A Wall

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I was wandering around a gritty commercial area just south of the Arch and came upon a breathtaking work of art (in my opinion, but by definition I have strange tastes). At the corner of Third and Gratiot Streets there is a low brick building with a board fixed to the outside. Eight books, classic novels, are nailed to the board, sitting out in all the weather. There's Jane Eyre, Of Mice and Men and Brave New World, among others. They could be read but their spines are nailed open to a particular pair of pages, they are above many people's eye level and they are being slowly eaten by the atmosphere. Then there is the single page pictured at the upper left.

What do you think it means? The decline of literacy, perhaps, in an instantaneous, electronic age? A prophesy of the end of civilization? I think it's bloody brilliant and even more expressive because it is lonely, unpublicized and rarely seen. I'd like to know how it affects you.

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO: my iPod is plugged into the sound system, running my Favorites playlist. Brian Eno's Music for Airports. Orquesta Tipica fernandez Fierro's cover of Carlos Gardel's beloved tango, Questa Abajo. Au Fond du Temple Sant from Bizet's The Pearl Fishers. The Prayer from Philip Glass' opera Ahkenaten. Alla bella Despineta from Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutti (I saw the production in this YouTube clip-it was fabulous). Woe-Is-Uh-Me-Bop by the immortal Captain Beefheart. Chopin's Ballade in G Minor. At the wrong time of year, The Rite of Spring.

TOMORROW: more about these books..

5 comments:

Virginia said...

Strange with a capital "S". I have no idea but it is intriguing!

Snapper said...

ST, I love this post. Was Huckleberry Finn one of the books? If so, maybe the artist was saying something about censorship and the banning of books. If not, maybe you're right about the decline of literacy in an electronic age. Or perhaps the artist is just asking us to slow down a bit which of course reading a book requires one to do. Whatever the intent, it's certainly an intriguing piece made even more so by it's placement.

Blacksun said...

Interessting.. although I can't stand if books are harmed. But I think there is something interesssting behind it. Maybe something with banning of books or so.

Jilly said...

I love this, Strangetastes and also find it somehow shocking. It's art that probably means something different to each of us.

It's interesting the books are placed above eye level. Perhaps it represents, as you say, a decline in literacy - perhaps it means people need to stretch metaphorically to read a book. ie make the effort.

It's probably simply the artist's comment that these particular books - and books generally - are not read so much these days. They should be!

Can't wait for tomorrow.

The words 'It'll only hurt a bit' seems to me to talk about the pain to the writer - and of course it would hurt a LOT - not a little.

Just Roaming The Cities said...

How interesting! It seems so strange to see this, I have to say the first thing I think of for some reason is with the nails in the books I think of Christ's Crucifixion. Like the books are up on display to hang on to whats left of this world. Literature is like that, words that hold forever when people are long-gone the stories of their lives.
Nice blog.