Wednesday, 23 September 2009

On faux libraries (and other dummies)

Today I was reminded of Dan's post (some time ago) on faux libraries. A friend told me that he bought a digital set of Karl Rahner's Investigations, and he suggested that it should come with a matching faux set, just so everyone can see that you own it.

The temptation to create faux libraries is not unique to film sets and other sinks of iniquity. When the famous Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon moved to Bournemouth, he didn't have enough books to fill all the shelves, so he added a wall of handsome dummy books. Charles Dickens created a humorous collection of dummy books, with titles such as The Corn Question by John Bunyan, Dr Kitchener's Life of Captain Cook, Mr J. Horner on Poet's Corner, and Savage on Civilisation. And Aldous Huxley describes a faux library with titles such as Biography of Men Who Were Born Great, Biography of Men Who Achieved Greatness, Biography of Men Who Had Greatness Thrust Upon Them, and Biography of Men Who Were Never Great At All.

In his entertaining Anatomy of Bibliomania, Holbrook Jackson pours scorn on such "panels of deception"; and he passionately condemns those "ghouls" who purchase old books with the deliberate intention of converting them into attractive boxes for cigars, jewellery, notepaper and the like:

"And what of those who encourage this ghoulish trade? They are no better than body-snatchers, desecrators of the temple, vain, tawdry, callous, whether sellers of such monuments of destruction or buyers of them, biblioclasts and dolts to boot, necrophils of a sort..."
Personally, I don't really see the appeal of faux libraries. I myself think it would be much more useful to have a faux desk and faux computer in my study. "Oh, that computer's not real. I just want to look as though I do some work here; whereas really I sit around all day reading books." Here's a working prototype:

15 Comments:

bruce hamill said...

Did you really make that yourself... as a sign of how much work you do at the desk?

Ben Myers said...

Nah, I stole the picture from Squidoo. (I was too busy reading to make anything myself.)

Debbie Haughland Chan said...

I love it! You've got a great sense of humour.

kim fabricius said...

Ceci n'est pas un ordinateur.

A. S. Tatum said...

Which is worse? A person of great intellectual integrity with many faux books or a faux intellectual with many real, albeit unread, books?

roger flyer said...

Too many wires at this desk..

Ben Myers said...

Good point, Roger. I hope someone with better technical skills can design a wireless faux mouse and keyboard. That would be a major improvement.

Anonymous said...

anchorman: "I have many leather-bound books and latin texts"

Christopher said...

So you posted a faux picture of your faux computer? The brilliance is overhwhelming.

theologyforum said...

I also would need a faux me to sit in the desk looking like he is doing work while I am off reading books elsewhere.

Kent

John P. said...

On the opposite end of the spectrum, i highly recommend Alberto Manguel's "The Library at Night." It is basically a doxology for bibliophiles - tracing the history of libraries and humanity's passion for (real) books up to the present electronic age.

It is great bedside reading...

joel mason said...

One could also get an office the size of most professors I know. That would require less books!

joel

Doug Harink said...

What the faux!

Fat said...

Matthew 10:36
And a man's faux shall be they of his own household.

A. S. Tatum said...

Which is worse? A person of great intellectual integrity with many faux books or a faux intellectual with many real, albeit unread, books?

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