Sunday, April 17, 2011

The PhilosophyTweet Anti-Library

Taleb's The Black Swan: "Read books are far less valuable than unread ones." (He attributes the "anti-library" to Umberto Eco.

The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and non dull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with 'Wow! Signore professore dottore Eco, what a library you have! How many of these books have you read?' and the others - a very small minority - who get the point that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight read-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.

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  1. This is a comforting concept. When I was 23, I had maybe a few hundred books, and had pretty much read them all. Now, at 53, I have thousands of books and have probably read maybe a bit more than half of them.

    since I want to reread the good ones, I'll have to come to grips with not living long enough to read the other ones.

  2. Make sure you leave your books to someone who appreciates them.