The company you keep

We’re currently in the middle of a Rare Books shift.  In library lingo, that means we’re shifting the books from one place to another.  Or in this case, to another section of the same shelving.

This is not glamorous work.  Some of these books are shedding dust, paper bits, and other particles we’d rather not identify.  And it’s a lot of lifting and bending and stooping and moving shelves which sometimes requires the use of a mallet to loosen them.  So a kind of physical task, this.  So I think I can be forgiven if I occasionally get distracted by one of the books that we’re handling. (This is Arlene, btw.)

Late Friday afternoon, the distraction was the 1903 edition of Ivan Panin’s Aphorisms.  A little collection of sayings/thoughts for which Panin took credit.  Go look up Panin on your favorite search mechanism, encyclopedia, or whatever. Not that we’ve done a lot of research here, but what comes across is a guy who might have been a bit of a nutter.  Which is okay, no judgments, we all have our nutter moments and he even managed to get people to purchase print copies of his.  So some of the aphorisms are charming, some distinctly not.  But this is my absolute favorite, and so I share it with you.  It’s in a section of the book on society.  In this case the company you keep.  I have no idea what this says about me that I find this amusing and so does everyone I’ve shared it with thus far (including a bunch of archivists, librarians, and historians) even despite having no idea what he’s trying to say with it.

The penalty of walking among apes is an occasional cocoanut shot at your head.

So there you go.  If you decide to embroider this on a pillow, don’t forget to note the author.  And send us a photo of the finished product, okay?

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