Page 1

# Jen Valentine


#

& Brief Notes

on the Art and Manner of

Arranging One’s Books

Jen Valentine


Š 2012 Valentine Design All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission of the copyright owners. No responsibility is accepted by producer, publisher, or printer for any infringement of copyright or otherwise, arising from the contents of this publication. Every effort has been made to ensure that credits accurately comply with information supplied. First published in the United States of America by Blurb Printing located in San Francisco, US. www.blurb.com


table of contents


2 brief notes on the art and manner of arranging one’s books

10 arrangements 12 map points 16 five star ratings 18 timeline 20 book relations 22 books preview 24 less than zero 26 one flew over the cuckoo’s nest 28 a tale of two cities 30 slaughterhouse - five or the children’s crusade: a duty - dance with death

32 midnight in the garden of good and evil 34 catch - 22 36 one hundred years of solitude 38 fahrenheit 451 40 nineteen eighty - four 42 a million little pieces 44 about


Brief Notes on the Art and Manner of Arranging One’s Books* an except from Species of Spaces and Other Pieces by Georges Perec

*First published in L’Humidité in 1978. 1. A library I call a sum of books constituted by a non-professional reader for

his own pleasure and daily use. This excludes the collections of bibliophiles and fine bindings by the yard, but also the majority of specialized libraries (those in universities, for example) whose particular problems match those of public libraries.

2


Every library1 answers a twofold need, which is often also a twofold obsession: that of conserving certain objects (books) and that of organizing them in certain ways. One of my friends had the idea one day of stopping his library at 361 books. The plan was as follows: having attained, by addition or subtraction, and starting from a given number n of books, the number K = 361, deemed as corresponding to a library, if not an ideal then at least a sufficient library, he would undertake to acquire on a permanent basis a new book X only after having eliminated (by giving away, throwing out, selling or any other appropriate means) an old book Z, so that the total number K of works should remain constant and equal to 361: K + X >361> K - Z. As it evolved this seductive scheme came up against predictable obstacles for which the unavoidable solutions were found. First, a volume was to be seen as counting as one (1) book even if it contained three (3) novels (or collections of poems, essays, etc.); from which it was deduced that three (3) or four (4) or n (n) novels by the same author counted (implicitly) as one (1) volume by that author, as fragments not yet brought together but ineluctably bringable together in a Collected Works. Whence it was adjudged that this or that recently acquired novel by this or that Englishlanguage novelist of the second half of the nineteenth century could not logically count as a new work X but as a work Z belonging to a series under construction: the set T of all the novels written by the aforesaid novelist (and God knows there are some!). This didn’t alter the original scheme in any way at all: only instead of talking about 361 books, it was decided that the sufficient library was ideally to be made up of 361 authors, whether they had written a slender opuscule or enough to fill a truck.

So then, one of the chief problems encountered by the man who keeps the books he has read or promises himself that he will one day read is that of the increase in his library. Not everyone has the good fortune to be Captain Nemo: ‘...the world ended for me the day my Nautilus dived for the first time beneath the waves. On that day I bought my last volumes, my last pamphlets, my last newspapers, and since that time I would like to believe that mankind has neither thought nor written.’ Captain Nemo’s 12,000 volumes, uniformly bound, were thus classified once and for all, and all the more simply because the classification, as is made clear to us, was uncertain, at least from the language point of view (a detail which does not at all concern the art of arranging a library but is meant simply to remind us that Captain Nemo spoke all languages indiscriminately). But for us, who continue to have to do with a human race that insists on thinking, writing and above all publishing, the increasing size of our libraries tends to become the one real problem. For it’s not too difficult, very obviously, to keep ten or twenty or let’s say even a hundred books; but once you start to have 361, or a thousand, or three thousand, and especially when the total starts to increase every day or thereabouts, the problem arises, first of all of arranging all these books somewhere and then of being able to lay your hand on them one day when, for whatever reason, you either want or need to read them at last or even to reread them. Thus the problem of a library is shown to be twofold: a problem of space first of all, then a problem of order.

This modification proved effective over several years. But it soon became apparent that certain works - romances of chivalry, for example - had no author or else had several authors, and that certain authors - the Dadaists, for example - could not be kept separate from one another without automatically losing 80 to 90 per cent of what made them interesting. The idea was thus reached of a library restricted to 361 subjects - the term is vague but the groups it covers are vague also at times - and up until now that limitation has been strictly observed.

brief notes on the art and manner of arranging one’s books • #


1. Of Space 1.1. Generalities Books are not dispersed but assembled. Just as we put all the pots of jam into a jam cupboard, so we put all our books into the same place, or into several same places. Even though we want to keep them, we might pile our books away into trunks, put them in the cellar or the attic, or in the bottoms of wardrobes, but we generally prefer them to be visible. In practice, books are most often arranged one beside the other, along a wall or division, on rectilinear supports, parallel with one another, neither too deep nor too far apart. Books are arranged usually - standing on end and in such a way that the title printed on the spine of the work can be seen (sometimes, as in bookshop windows, the cover of the books is displayed, but it is unusual, proscribed and nearly always considered shocking to have only the edge of the book on show). In current room layouts, the library is known as an ‘area’ for books. This, most often, is a module belonging as a whole to the ‘living-room’, which likewise contains a drop-leaf drinks cabinet drop-leaf writing desk two-door dresser hi-fi unit television console slide projector display cabinet etc. and is offered in catalogues adorned with a few false bindings. In practice books can be assembled just about anywhere.

4


1. 2. Rooms where books may be put in the entrance hall in the sitting room in the bedroom(s) in the bog Generally speaking, one kind of book is put in the room you cook in, the ones known as ‘cookery books’. It is extremely rare to find books in a bathroom, even though for many people this is a favourite place to read in. The surrounding humidity is unanimously considered a prime enemy of the conservation of printed texts. At the most, you may find in a bathroom a medicine cupboard and in the medicine cupboard a small work entitled What to do before the doctor gets there.

1. 3. Places in a room where books can be arranged On the shelves of fireplaces or over radiators (it may be thought, even so, that heat may, in the long run, prove somewhat harmful), between two windows, in the embrasure of an unused door, on the steps of a library ladder, making this unusable (very chic), underneath a window, on a piece of furniture set at an angle and dividing the room into two (very chic, creates an even better effect with a few pot-plants).

brief notes on the art and manner of arranging one’s books • #


1.4. Things which aren’t books but are often met with in libraries Photographs in gilded brass frames, small engravings, pen and ink drawings, dried flowers in stemmed glasses, matchboxholders containing, or not, chemical matches (dangerous), lead soldiers, a photograph of Ernest Renan in his study at the CollÊge de France,* postcards, dolls’ eyes, tins, packets of salt, pepper and mustard from Lufthansa, letter-scales, picture hooks, marbles, pipe-cleaners, scale models of vintage cars, multicoloured pebbles and gravel, ex-votos, springs.

6

*A famously pompous, highminded nineteenth-century scholar and writer,

unlikely to have appealed to GP.


2. Of Order in libraries A library that is not arranged becomes disarranged: this is the example I was given to try and get me to understand what entropy was and which I have several times verified experimentally. Disorder in a library is not serious in itself; it ranks with ‘Which drawer did I put my socks in?’. We always think we shall know instinctively where we have put such and such a book. And even if we don’t know, it will never be difficult to go rapidly along all the shelves. Opposed to this apologia for a sympathetic disorder is the smallminded temptation towards an individual bureaucracy: one thing for each place and each place for its one thing, and vice versa. Between these two tensions, one which sets a premium on letting things be, on a good-natured anarchy, the other that exalts the virtues of the tabula rasa, the cold efficiency of the great arranging, one always ends by trying to set one’s books in order. This is a trying, depressing operation, but one liable to produce pleasant surprises, such as coming upon a book you had forgotten because you could no longer see it and which, putting off until tomorrow what you won’t do today, you finally re-devour lying face down on your bed.

2.1. Ways of arranging books ordered alphabetically ordered by continent or country ordered by colour ordered by date of acquisition ordered by date of publication ordered by format ordered by genre ordered by major periods of literary history ordered by language ordered by priority for future reading ordered by binding ordered by series None of these classifications is satisfactory by itself. In practice, every library is ordered starting from a combination of these modes of classification, whose relative weighting, resistance to change, obsolescence and persistence give every library a unique personality. We should first of all distinguish stable classifications from provisional ones. Stable classifications are those which, in principle, you continue to respect; provisional classifications are those supposed to last only a few days, the time it takes for a book to

discover, or rediscover, its definitive place. This may be a book recently acquired and not yet read, or else a book recently read that you don’t quite know where to place and which you have promised yourself you will put away on the occasion of a forth-coming ‘great arranging’, or else a book whose reading has been interrupted and that you don’t want to classify before taking it up again and finishing it, or else a book you have used constantly over a given period, or else a book you have taken down to look up a piece of information or a reference and which you haven’t yet put back in its place, or else a book that you can’t put back in its rightful place because it doesn’t belong to you and you’ve several times promised to give it back, etc. In my own case, nearly three-quarters of my books have never really been classified. Those that are not arranged in a definitively provisional way are arranged in a provisionally definitive way, as at the OuLiPo. Meanwhile, I move them from one room to another, one shelf to another, one pile to another, and may spend three hours looking for a book without finding it but sometimes having the satisfaction of coming upon six or seven others which serve my purpose just as well.

brief notes on the art and manner of arranging one’s books • #


2.2. Books very easy to arrange The big Jules Vernes in the red binding, very large books, very small ones, Baedekers, rare books or ones presumed to be so, hardbacks, volumes in the PlĂŠiade collection, the PrĂŠsence du Futur series, novels published by the Editions de Minuit, collections, journals of which you possess at least three issues, etc.

8


2.3. Books not too difficult to arrange Books on the cinema, whether essays on directors, albums of movie stars or shooting scripts, South American novels, ethnology, psychoanalysis, cookery books (see above), directories (next to the phone), German Romantics, books in the Que Sais-je? series (the problem being whether to arrange them all together or with the discipline they deal with), etc.

2.4. Books just about impossible to arrange The rest: for example, journals of which you possess only a single issue, or else La Campagne de 1812 en Russie by Clausewitz, translated from the German by M. Bégouën, Captain-Commandant in the 31st Dragoons, Passed Staff College, with one map, Paris, Librairie Militaire R. Chapelot et Cie, 1900; or else fascicule 6 of Volume 91 (November 1976) of the Proceedings of the Modern Language Association of America (PMLA) giving the programme for the 666 working sessions of the annual congress of the said Association. Like the librarians of Babel in Borges’s story, who are looking for the book that will provide them with the key to all the others, we oscillate between the illusion of perfection and the vertigo of the unattainable. In the name of completeness, we would like to believe that a unique order exists that would enable us to accede

in knowledge all in one go; in the name of the unattainable, we would like to think that order and disorder are in fact the same word, denoting pure chance. It’s possible also that both are decoys, illusions intended to disguise the erosion of both books and systems. It is no bad thing in any case that between the two our bookshelves should serve from time to time as joggers of the memory, as cat-rests and as lumber-rooms.

brief notes on the art and manner of arranging one’s books • #


arrangements containing a brief overview of ways books arranged themselves

10


arrangements • #

25 relations

8,929 reviews

242 years

152 years

47 plot points

10 books


1

ch ica go

2 4

11

5

10

6

12

14

13

17

7

geles los an

ew

9

3

29 27 20 30 23 26 3132 25 22 n

16 15

8

# of countries resided in us states

average times visited

ELEVEN 20 / 50 40%

1.766

47 places frequented 83 times most frequented locations

12

8

new york city london

los angeles 5 chicago 5 paris 4

19 18

28

21 24

yo rk cit y


map points

lon do n

books & authors

34 33

35

41

36 38 39

ris pa 37

42 40

43

46 44 45

map points • #


ma d

47

a tralf

space

14

or e

ONCE

1.20%

of all visits


map points places & frequency

1

palo alto, ca

2

springfield, or

3

los angeles, ca

4

pleasant hill, or

5

unspecified, nv

6

las vegas, nv

7

la junta, co

8

mexico city

9

unspecified, ne

10

unspecified, ks

11

unspecified, mn

12

iowa city, ia

13

indianapolis, in

14

chicago, il

15

savannah, ga

16

knoxville, te

1

31

boston, ma

17

granville, oh

2

32

cape cod, ma 2

18

bolivar

33

kent

19

barranquilla

1

34

shiplake

20

syracuse, ny

1

35

east sussex

21

bagotĂĄ

36

london

1

22

washington, dc

37

barcelona

1

23

university park, pa 1 38 paris

1

24

macondo

1

25

new york city, ny

26

new haven, ct

27

ithica, ny

28

aracataca

29

bennington, vt

30

unspecified, nh

1

2

5

1

1

1

2

1

5

2

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

2

1

8

3

1

1

1

8

1

4

39

switzerland

40

pianoso

1

41

dresden

3

42

rome

2

43

bihar

1

44

mandalay

45

rangoon

46

katha

47

tralfamadore

1

1

1

1

map points • #

1


1s t

5st

4st

3s t

2s t

2.99%

6 8 .2 3 %

5st

4st

2st

3st

%

%

87

1.93

4.

7 2 .7 1 %

100 ye

ars

1st

2st

100 22 1st

14

.91

catch

3st

%

years of solitude

1984

4sr 5st

75.26%

1

2

3 6 2 .7 0 %

4

5 1st

ONE

flew over the cuckoo’s nest

16

slaughterhou

2st 3st

64.64%

4star 5star

slaughterhouse

FIVE

one flew over the cuckoos nest


5

4

3

1

2

5 star ratings based on amazon users

less than

ZERO

1 4 .6 0 % 1 0 .1 1 %

3 7 .8 2 %

1 5 .3 5 % 2 2 .0 9 %

less

1st

1st

2st

2st

3st

3st 4st

4st

52.47%

t

1s t t

3s

little pieces t

cities

1,000,000 5s

1st

2st

3st

4st

TWO

4 4 .1 8 %

five star ratings • #

t

in the garden of good and evil

tale of

5st

4s

MIDNIGHT 5st

451

5 1 .8 3 %

2s

fahrenheit

5st

5 2 .3 4 %


date of novel

timeline

1930

1920

1910

1900

1800

1770

including: date novel begins year of publication authors birth year

publication date less than zero one flew over the cuckoo’s nest a tale of two cities slaughterhouse - five midnight in the garden of good and evil catch - 22 one hundred years of solitude fahrenheit 451 1984 a million little pieces

18

4 weeks 6 months 17 years ~ 30 years

1 year 18 months 9 months the future ~ 1 year


FUTUTRE

2010

2000

1990

1980

1970

1960

1950

1940

authors birth year

span of time per each novel

time warp

timeline • #


0%

A MILLION LITTLE PIECES

0%

LESS THAN ZERO

ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE

0%

book relations based on amazon recommendations

MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL

0%

20


SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE

50%

ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST

CATCH-22 40%

60%

0%

CATCHER IN THE RYE : A CONTROL 90%

A TALE OF TWO CITIES 60%

1984

40%

FAHRENHEIT 451

book relations • #


TITLE OF BOOK AUTHOR LAST NAME, First Name b(irth date) mm.dd.yyyy birth place d(eath date) mm.dd.yyyy death place publication year amazon best seller rank # of pages

22


other books written by said author in no particular order

“First sentence of the novel.

book preview • #


LESS THAN ZERO ELLIS, Bret Easton b 03.07.1964 los angeles, ca

1985 publication #6,565 amazon books

208 pages

24


less than zero the rules of attraction american psycho the informers glamorama lunar park imperial bedrooms

“People are afraid to merge

on freeways in Los Angeles.

less than zero • #


ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST KESEY, Ken b 09.17.1935 la junta, co d 11.10.2001 pleasant hill, or

1962 publication #33,769 amazon books

320 pages

26


one flew over the cuckoo’s nest sometimes a great notion kesey’s garage sale demon box caverns sailor song last go round kesey’s jail journal

“They’re out there.

one flew over the cuckoo’s nest • #


A TALE OF TWO CITIES DICKENS, Charles b 02.07.1812 landport, england d 06.09.1870 kent, england

1859 publication #15,992 amazon books

412 pages

28


a tale of two cities

david copperfield

pictures from italy

pickwick papers

bleak house

reprinted pieces

oliver twist

hard times

sketches by boz

nicholas nickleby

little dorrit

young couples

old curiosity shop

great expectations

young gentleman

barnaby rudge

our mutual friend

speeches

american notes

mystery of edwin drood

sunday

martin chuzzlewit

child’s history

battle of life

christmas carol

holiday romance

lamplighter

chimes

hunted down

uncommercial traveller

cricket on the hearth

master humphrey’s clock

read at dusk

bombey and son

mudfog

and many, many more

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. # a tale of two cities •


SLAUGHTERHOUSE - FIVE or THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE : A DUTY-DANCE WITH DEATH

VONNEGUT, Kurt b 11.11.1922 indianaopils, ia d 04.11.2007 new york city, ny

1969 publication #1,044 amazon books

275 pages

30


slaughterhouse-five, or the children’s

deadeye dick

crusade: a duty-dance with death

galápagos: a novel

player piano

bluebeard, the autobiography of rabo

the sirens of titan

karabekian (1916-1988)

mother night

hocus pocus

cat’s cradle

timequake

god bless you, mr. rosewater, or pearls before swine breakfast of champions, or goodbye blue monday slapstick, or lonesome no more! jailbird

“All this happened, more “

or less.

slaughterhouse - five, or the children’s crusade : a duty - dance with death • #


MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL BERENT, John b 12.05.1939 syracuse, ny

1994 publication #5,054

400 pages

32


midnight in the garden of good and evil the city of falling angels

He was tall, about fifty, with darkly handsome, almost sinister features: a neatly trimmed mustache, hair turning silver at temples, and eyes so black they were like the tinted windows of a sleek limousine - he could see out, but you couldn’t see in.

midnight in the garden of good and evil • #


CATCH - 22 HELLER, Joseph b 05.01.1923 brooklyn, ny d 12.12.1999 east hampton, ny

1961 publication # 738

453 pages

34


catch - 22 something happened good as gold god knows picture this closing time portrait of an artist, as an old man

“It was love at first sight.

catch - 22 • #


ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE MÁRQUEZ, Gabriel García b 03.06.1927 aracataca, columbia

1967 publication #894 amazon books

417 pages

36


one hundred years of solitude

collected novellas

no one writes to the colonel

the general in his labyrinth

leaf storm and other stories

strange pilgrims

the autumn of the patriarch

of love and other demons

innocent eréndira and other stories

news of a kidnapping

in evil hour

living to tell the tale

chronicle of a death foretold

memories of my melancholy whores

collected stories the story of a shipwrecked sailor clandestine in chile: the adventures of miguel littín love in the time of cholera

years later, as he faced “Many the firing squad, Colonel Aure-

liano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

one hundred years of solitude • #


FAHRENHEIT 451 BRADBURY, Ray b 08.22.1920 waukegan, il

1953 publication #2,218 amazon books

179 pages

38


fahrenheit 451 the martian chronicles dandelion wine something wicked this way comes the halloween tree death is a lonely business a graveyard for lunatics green shadows, white whale from the dust returned let’s all kill constance farewell summer

“It was a pleasure to burn.

fahrenheit 451 • #


NINETEEN EIGHTY - FOUR ORWELL, George b 06.25.1903 bihar, british india d 01.21.1950 london, england

1949 publication # 729

326 pages

40


nineteen eighty - four burmese days a clergyman’s daughter keep the aspidistra flying coming up for air animal farm

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

nineteen eighty - four • #


A MILLION LITTLE PIECES FREY, James b 09.12.1969 ohio, usa

2003 publication #3,379 amazon books

430 pages

42


a million little pieces my friend leonard bright shiny morning the final testament of the holy bible

“I wake to the drone of an air-

plane engine and the feeling of something warm dripping down my chin.

“

a million little pieces • #


about the author & the project

44


about the author

Jen Valentine is a graphic designer based out of Chicago, IL. She studied at Columbia College Chicago, earning her BFA in May 2012. She is currently working as a freelancer in the Chicago area, but sees broad horizons in her future. You can contact her at jennifer.valentine@loop.colum.edu.

about the project

This exploration of data came about upon reading Perec’s except Brief Notes on the Art and Manner of Arranging One’s Books from his work Species of Spaces and Other Pieces. It was a sudden realization at this point, that my books remained disarranged by any means besides the limitations of their size. With further inspection, it happened that approximately 80% of the books in my library contained numbers in their title. It was then that I decided to use the numerical data ( found within the book’s title, the book itself, and Amazon.com’s selection of recommendations and star ratings ) to arrange my books. Utilizing charts, timelines, and graphic elements I was able to present information to the viewer to enhance their understanding of the plot and the use of each specific number in the title. Typeset in DIN and printed by blurb.com in 2012. All graphical elements were made by Jen Valentine.

about • #


#  

A collection of numerical data collected from a series of ten books compiled into charts, timelines and graphical elements inspired by Georg...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you