Monday, February 07, 2005

Ready for Retirement

I realized something the other day, as I was rearranging and shelving some books at home.

I had just bought another book in the Chaosium press library of Lovecraft-inspired or -related fiction. I have a few books in this series. I have a few related books. I have the collected works of HP Lovecraft. I have a few of the Robert E. Howard pulp collections.

(This is backstory, not realization. I did not have to realize what books I have, or what my down-time reading interests are.)

I had bought another book with the full knowledge that I will likely not read it within the next ten years. But I wanted to have it. Just like those many other pulp books that I have, bought, collected, or desired. I will likely not read these books for many years. I don't have enough "down-time" to really begin a pulp reading project, it seems--I have too much to read for school or even work, that "downtime" just means a time to read something i've follen behind on or don't have an immediate deadline on, but is still professionally or academically relevent.) So I may not read these books for years to come.

If ever.

Yet i keep collecting them.

The question is: why?

Why purchase and organize a corpus of literature that I may never have time to read? Why do I have these possessions that I do not need and cannot really justify?

Perhaps the Buddhists will have some lesson about detachment. Maybe the Quakers will scold me for not living a simple life.

Its probably a simple answer. Lovecraft and the pulps were what i read in my childhood. Sure, I read Tolkien--and continue to re-read him. But I read HPL and ERB voraciously.

These books must be reminders for me, of a simpler time in my life, when imagination was not constrained by fact, that exploration with the mind didn't require the justification of higher education and critical thinking, and adventure was grand and simple. (Okay, yes, I'm also sophisticated enough to realize that many pulp authors were products of their time, and were likely racist and sexist, as well as more than a little bit closeted.)

Its almost like....the pulps that I read before I went to school and entered the work force will be what I read when I have left school and the work force. I'm preparing myself a way to revisit my childhood, and maybe even unlock a little bit of the imagination and creative thinking that the modern world has hammered into a very tight, solid box, and which is aching to be released.

Until then, I'll continue to buy, organize, and manage my pulp lit--adventure, dark horror, and "science" fiction--and anticipate a day when i might be able to begin reading them and rediscover wonder.