December 7, 2016

What am I reading? (Some thoughts on marginalia)

I spent the latter half of this summer looking wistfully out of the window at people enjoying the unexpectedly nice weather and attempting to write a dissertation. Whilst working my way through a stack of books before embarking on the actual writing bit, I found myself becoming (perhaps disproportionately) enraged by what I saw to be the unnecessary volume of underlined sentences and margin notes in the books that I’d borrowed from the library. This intense irritation came to a head when I reached The Mass Ornament by Siefried Kracauer and came across a page with an indelible biro-scrawled circle over the text itself. ‘Who writes in a library book in pen?’ I huffed to myself. ‘And what was even the point of that circle?’ It seemed to loosely ring the word ‘bodies’ in a paragraph in the titular essay but didn’t appear to mark the significance of the word in any legible way, the uselessness of the gesture annoying m...

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