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scarcity mentality

with 2 comments

Do you remember, before the internet and amazon and the like, when you’d visit bookstores and see things and buy them because you had a sense that you might never see them again? The books that you could buy were the books that were in stock at the bookstores that you were able to visit. When you grow up somewhere like the New Jersey suburbs, this feeling would be particularly acute because the stores that you had were so lackluster, though you only have half a sense of that at the time.

I rarely buy books now, and almost never like that. Every once in awhile, under the right circumstances, I am taken back to that structure of feeling – that sense of intellectual scarcity – and I buy to hoard, to hedge against never buying again. A few days ago at the MOMA’s bookshop, I bought more than I should have, and did so for reasons at once immensely complicated and burningly simple.

Even if books are universally available, anytime anywhere, other things are not. Like people, like friends. Also crystalline situations, moments of unearned happiness, strings of synchronized rhythm between inside and out. And so you spend too much, spend whatever it takes, empty your wallet and even go into debt in order to have them when they are available since they might suddenly disappear or, more likely, you might not make it back to the place where they are offered any time soon or ever even.

Probably an idle train of thought, but I wonder sometimes what it would be like to live in a world where nothing at all was scarce. Whatever I come up with, it remains the bad faith doublethink mirror of progressivism, haunting it, taunting it, wherever it goes, wherever it leads. No, it is a horrible thing to think in a world where for most scarcity isn’t the salt of life but rather its daily bread. But scarcity is the key to the equation that hangs the spans of literature, and so I give it time. Or rather, it takes my time and gives it back cut into ribbons, satiny ribbons for rubbing while I sleep and sometimes while I am awake and walking or typing.

Written by adswithoutproducts

September 5, 2008 at 3:22 pm

Posted in everyday

2 Responses

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  1. Honestly? This is why I have so many crap theory books from the era in which MIT and minnesota presses wrapped their stuff in plastic. “But but but, who knows when I’ll see this again?”


    September 5, 2008 at 5:45 pm

  2. Remainder tables, at some point I learned to stay away from remainder tables.

    I spent far, far more money on books when I was an undergraduate and had no money than I do now, when I could, you know, afford a book or two. Back then, I’d bet I averaged 5-8 a week, one way or another. Now <1.


    September 5, 2008 at 9:22 pm

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