Friday, August 14, 2015

Repost: We Do Not Talk About These Bookshelves

Every other week my blog will feature a reposted work. I had been a contributor on two different sites that have since closed or no longer include blogs. I will be reposting pieces that had originally been featured on one of these two sites.  

This was originally posted October 06, 2011

I put together some new bookcases yesterday.  While doing the task I was reminded of the movie Fight Club. 

We keep accumulating books and we’d outgrown our current cases.  We had books piling up on top of other books and sideways and other-ways all over our shelves.  We had stacks on the window sill and the floor. 

We discussed how to rearrange the living room and what furniture we would get rid of.  We went to four different stores to find something that would fit our space.  One store had something we liked on display but it was completely discontinued by the company.  We ended up paying for two shelving units and then waiting for our Lowes to get them shipped from another store since they were out of stock.  I put them together last night, finishing at about 2am. 

As I was assembling them I was thinking about how cool it would look to have a full wall of books in our living room.  I anticipated our home being more organized, more clean looking.  I envisioned standing in front of my vast collection of books while friends were visiting and pulling out one or two choice specimens to discuss or lend.  Libraries like those in Beauty and the Beast and Harry Potter flashed before my mind's eye.

Pretty Amazing, I know.

And then it came to me. 
I was acting just like “Cornelius”, Edward Norton’s Character in Fight Club.

“Whatever else happens, I’ve got that sofa problem handled.”
These bookshelves were going to solve all related problems.  I'd be able to move on with my life without the clutter of the books and the disorganization of my living room getting in the way. 
Whatever else happens....I've got that book problem solved. 

"What kind of dining set defines me as a person?"
These bookshelves showed the world that I was well read, wise, knowledgeable, thoughtful, cultured, …you know, stuff like that.  They defined me as a person, or at least I wanted them to.  
What kind of bookshelves….define me?

Fight Club presents some very good questions about American culture and manhood.  It suggests that most of what we value in our consumer focused culture is meaningless.  Meaning and purpose in life is found in something deeper, earthier, more visceral than American consumerism.

I agree with all of that.

The solution as portrayed by the character of Tyler Durden (played by Brad Pitt) is to cause chaos, destroy society, and start over. 
...I don’t agree with that.

But there I was, excitedly assembling the shelves, not just for utility, but because I had attributed some deep personal/spiritual meaning to them. 

Maybe there is some use to the solutions presented in Fight Club. 
Maybe I do need to take some drastic steps in my life. 
Maybe I do need to violently destroy the hold that consumerism has on me.
Maybe I do care about stuff more than I care about the things in life that really matter.

On the other hand, I do need a place to put all of my interesting books.

....and below is a video of those shelves in our current apartment. I couldn't resist adding it [edit 2015].

A video posted by Jared Begg (@jared_begg) on

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...