I recently came across this video, part of the Metropolitan Museum’s Connections series, an interesting view of books from Ken Soehner, Chief Librarian at the museum. I almost didn’t watch this video because of the quote on the cover page about not having a ebook in a portrait: it seemed a bit pompous. But, I did watch it, and I don’t think that quote, out of context, reflects the entire piece. I love what Soehner has to say about the scent of books, the tradition of books in art, and the place and meaning of books in lives throughout history.
I am glad that I can read ebooks, but I will never get over the sound, feel, smell of books. This also reminds me that before there were books in their present form, the written word — and stories — existed in other forms. A case, I think, for the book in electronic form, as well as its existence along side the book in paper and ink form.
The other bit that I like about this is what he has to say about Van Gogh and books. I read once that Van Gogh suffered from hypergraphia, a obsession with writing and a compulsion to write. I never made the connection, though, with the books in his paintings or saw them as an extension or symbol of the artist rather than his subject.
Watch the slideshow here.