|The heart with a mind of its own.(Be present.)||The mind with a heart of its own.(It's past.)||The dream that is your waking life.(Go there now.)|
Day before yesterday, M. and I went down to this bookstore where we used to go years and years ago before it closed and reopened on the same street some miles away from itself. M. had noticed that the place had reopened, and in an uncharacteristic move, had stopped and went inside. The man who owns it is kinda old, but not in a grandpa way or in a dirty old man kind of way, more old in the way that you'd think of a man who'd devoted his life to books and sort of incidentally got old along the way. He is from North Carolina, and has the most engaging accent, which I am at a loss to reproduce. He wears a sportscoat in his store and wanders around, bringing you books that he thinks you might find interesting (I actually do find them interesting most of the time and bought one or two of his finds day before yesterday). Occassionally, he comes up to you, and after politely inquiring as to whether or not you are in a hurry, he reads an interesting bit to you from a book or two. Day before yesterday, it was a quote from John Lennon, followed by a quote from a philosopher who lived in Greece around 2,400 B.C. who had said the same thing (though probably in ancient Greek) as Lennon.
His store, which he just reopened after a stint of selling books on the internet, is piled high with books. The store is shaped like a shoebox, and is not much bigger. There are five rows of shelves up, but the center shelf is surrounded by this mountain of badly stacked books. The man performed a small excavation, digging out the women's studies section, which I had inquired about. Then, as I perused the small shelf of women's studies book, he would wander over, once with a book about a woman pioneer (he read a blurb to me about how she began life in a small Eastern town and then agreed to become the housekeeper for a rancher in Wyoming. His drawled comment: "The plot thickens.") and once with a book called "The First Sex" published in 1970 about how women created the first civilizations (I decided to take that one, and placed it on a chair which I had started a molehill of books that were going to come home with me; later, as I passed the chair, he said he wanted to show me something. Picking up "The First Sex," he opened it to show me that it was highlighted and underlined in red, something which I had noticed, but it was so neatly done that, though highlighting normally infuriates me in a used book, I had kind of admired the spirit in which this particular highlighting had been done. The appropriate care had been taken with this marking up. Then, when I thanked him for pointing this out, he turned to the front of the book and showed me the bookplate, which reads, "Cognosce Occasionem" [know the times?] "Williams Y FYNO SWY Y FYDD. Carol M. Williams" and the stamped, curlique "W" opposite this bookplate, and he turned to the back of the book, showing me where, in many of the books that he had of hers, which he had bought from her estate after he died, there was written, "Property of Carol M. Williams," though it was not in this particular book. He read to me a note she had written on the front page, above the curliqued, stamped "W," which reads, "The First Sex by Elizabeth Gould Davis has generally been discredited in past or rejected entirely." His drawled comment, "I highly doubt that.")
After I had wandered a bit more, he pulled me off to show me a stack of dimestore types of paperback books from the forties, fifties, and sixties. You know, the ones with the lurid covers. I used to collect them, Maugham's "Of Human Bondage," with the woman in the torn dress on the cover, Hilton's "Lost Horizon" with the vaguely Asian mountain shrouded in mist, Huxley's "The Genius and the Goddess,"