Kicking Up Dust

September 28, 2007

A natural ebb and flow merges where Robotic Librarian lay temporarily dormant, assuming a posture of frayed edges. Or, long time no see.

At least six posts await completion, often begun with a kick of espresso when I haven’t the time to complete them. As I truck along in my third semester, getting my hands dirty with archival dust, I am hoping to discover a continuum of balance for work and play, as well as an affordable wireless connection. Without a connection at home I am discovering that I have difficulty with scripting posts. (Please let me know if you know of a reliable service that would be $20 or less a month…) Part of it is that I no longer have the free time between assignments to relax with hyperlinks and electronic free-association. If I have time to be online, it is planned and a necessary part of my school work for that day. I am in the midst of tackling this, and my eager enthusiasm for discussing librarianship has not dimmed.

In the coming weeks I am developing several different projects concerned with memory, all thematically related by their intimacy with “collective memory.” How do we decide that an event is memorable, and deserves a place of honor or respect in our cultural narrative? The first paper I am working on will be about the UbuWeb archive of avant-garde, ethnopoetic and outside arts. A massive, growing non-profit, wholly volunteer outsider archive, it strives to accumulate documents and evidence related to some fairly obscure threads of human society. Through interviews, videos, images, transcripts, podcasts, blogs and happenings, a wildly cross-cultural portrait is emerging of Ubu Roi and Dada’s children. Like this mesmerizing 1973 Matsuo Ohno video of Taj Mahal Travelers on tour, for instance.

I am also looking into writing a proposal for an internationally focused, professional film archive journal, as well as completing a large final project about the ongoing cultural memories of Black May, Thailand’s 1992 grass-roots uprising against General Kraprayoon’s military dictatorship. The protests led to a bloody confrontation at the Kreung Thep (Bangkok) Democracy Monument, near Rachadamneorn Road. It was slightly overcast in 2005, several days shy of the King’s birthday, when I visited this art deco oddity for the second time during my trip…

Thailand’s Democracy Monument, 02 December 2005

Hopefully I can find video of the surreal television broadcast inspired by the riots, where HM The King publicly berated the two leading political figures, the military man and the democratic leader, before leaving up to the to quell the disturbance caused by their difficulties. Amazingly, the violence ended with a peaceable transfer of power back to the monarchic democracy Thailand has enjoyed for over 70 years. (Anyone who might have access to any online materials about Black May, please let me know, I need anything and everything I can find.)

And so Robotic Librarian is not merely an archive of dust, and you will hear from me again. Until…

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The Dreaming

September 14, 2007

Vaucanson’s Duck visits the water garden, Chateau Impney

The weeks since the end of the summer session seem hazy and strange, as though my memory is floating adrift upon some unnamed sea. It’s absurd, really, just how much has happened in the space of a few months.

Visitors passed through Chicago & onward, toward numerous destinations unknown, arriving from Brooklyn, New Jersey, India, North Carolina, and Bahrain. I visited Seattle. Twice. Then the semester ended and a day later I left for England, with a 13 hour day trip to Amsterdam thrown in to season the mix. I arrived home, slept for a day and started school again; finally, exhausted and deranged by stimulation, I traveled to North Carolina to take part in a wedding a mere four days later. My every exhalation must still be touched by several climates and continents, so quickly did it all pass on by.

England was wonderful to see again, with more opportunity to visit the countryside than I’ve had before. Coventry, Warwick, Oxford, Worcester, Hemel Hampstead, London… Up above is a photo taken at the Chateau Impney Hotel in Droitwich Spa where, due to the kindness of my grandparents-in-law (and their 50 year friendship with the owner of the hotel), I was able to spend a night in extravagant splendor, with a carved stone balcony overlooking the lush landscape, milk cows and golden-hued horses. The Chateau has a wonderfully gothic history, built as an Englishman’s gift to his homesick French wife who, depression unalloyed by this well-intended simulacrum, flung herself from Impney’s highest point, to her death.

There is much to tell, and I will be posting several pictures from my travels over the coming weeks. I am also hoping to review the two books I read while on holiday, David Mitchell’s Ghostwritten and Don DeLillo’s The Names.

However, it is wonderful to be back, to finally return to the haven that is Robotic Librarian. And in case you missed it, every bibliophile and library lover ought to check out Curious Expedition’s Librophiliac Love Letter, a sumptuous visual feast that even Borges would’ve enjoyed. Here is sample photo of a Cathedral Library in Kalocsa, Hungary:

cathedral-library-kalocsa.jpg

These libraries make me lament the loss of the original Chicago library building (now the Cultural Center near Millennium Park) to today’s awkward & strangely proportioned Harold Washington –all libraries should, in their own way, large or small, inspire awe if not solemnity.

Until tomorrow, then.


In Absentia

September 12, 2007

I must apologize for my continued absence.  Several wonderful posts are forthcoming, I promise you, but I do not currently have internet access from home.  Also, just four days after my return from abroad I attended several classes for the fall GSLIS term as well as traveled to North Carolina for a friend’s wedding.  Soon these crazy, over-booked weeks + week-ends will be at an end and I will then have time to succumb to the many pleasures of Robotic Librarian, whether at the library or a cafe, or can set up access from home.  I also have many lovely pictures of England to share as well, especially from a village near to Hemel Hampstead…

Thank you so much for continuing to visit during my extended blogging holiday.