Friends, my brother Yan is going to be moving soon, and I of course have been drafted to aid him in this endeavor. Yan is not my brother’s real name. I call him Yan to protect his dignity, of which he has little. A few seconds of Googling likely will reveal his true identity, though why you would want it is beyond me. Yan is not very interesting. He is, in fact, a terrible, awful person who is going to make me haul about 300,000 metric tons of books from his old home to his new one. WE HATES HIM.
No, not really. We love Yan! His antics are quite amusing. But I thought I was done hauling freight in exchange for a few beers and some hearty thanks a loooong time ago. Like back in the 20th fucking century. It’s 2012, people. The world is going to assplode in a few months and I am spending my precious final hours hauling books.
Here at Somers Castle, I’ve been trying to rid myself of Things That Must Be Stored.
I used to be the King of All That Must Be Stored. It’s a genetic thing; my family has always kept everything. Bent, rusted screws? You never know, throw them in a jar. Winter jackets from when I was eight years old? You never know, hang them in a closet. I took this training with me and when I first lived on my own I was hauling a lot of stuff around with me.
About a decade ago I had a moment of clarity and have been trying to clean out my life, and I’ve had a lot of success. I realized that a lot of stuff I was hauling for nostalgic purposes had pretty much lost its meaning – if you haven’t spoken to someone in 20 years, do you really need to keep meaningless trinkets? And I used a bit of tough love on myself when it came to old computer equipment and CD-Roms filled with ancient software packages I don’t need any more. I mean, my god, I had shit I couldn’t even identify, pushed into envelopes marked MAYBE IMPORTANT WHO THE FUCK KNOWS. That’s how bad it is.
Currently, I’m largely divested. My CDs: In the trash, everything ripped to MP3s and stored on redundant DVDs. Paperwork, scanned. Trinkets thrown away if i can’t place their significance within five seconds. If I don’t burst into tears upon seeing the fucking things, I do not give a fuck about them anymore.
This is the End of Storage. I used to wonder where to jam everything. I used to sit and study the closets in the small, cramped old apartments I rented, pondering creative ways to get more shit into them. The digital world is freeing up so much damn space I can’t believe how much stuff I was hauling around with me. At a certain point in the future, I could actually imagine living someplace without much storage at all. Just enough to hold a few hundred DVDs — or, ultimately, a single humming RAID array, holding everything. Photos. Music. Manuscripts. Correspondence. All the paperwork of being an adult in the modern world.
The only problem: Books.
Ah, you say, you’re a moron, because books have been solved. I am a moron, this is true. But I’m also still kind of suspicious of eBooks in general, because corporations keep offending me with their blatant disrespect for consumer rights. As I’ve wheezed on before, when I purchase a physical book, I own that sucker. I can lend it, sell it, turn it into origami elephants. Whatever I like, because I own that sumbitch. When I buy an eBook, I am merely purchasing permission to read it and hang onto to it for as long as the seller lets me. Maybe I can loan it or resell it, but that’s determined by the rights holder, and the rights I have can be changed at any time, which means, of course they are not rights at all, are they? Jebus, the content of the book can be changed. On my device. Without my permission.
This is what scientists term bullshit.
So, books remain problematic. I would go get a Kindle or a Nook or whatever in a flash if I could actually own the digital files I purchased, if I could lend them and resell them to used eBook stores and all that jazz. Universally, across the board, without jumping through hoops. And then I could get rid of all these bookshelves and live in some sort of THX-1138 white world, unencumbered by all this stuff.
At which point, no doubt, we will all have holograms of bookshelves and piles of boxes beaming on our white walls, as it will become cool to have a mess everywhere. At least then I’ll be ahead of the game.