Real Vintage Words This Time


Today saw the acquisition of about 60 second-hand English books. My mother and I paid a visit to the ESRA (English Speaking Residents Association) bookshop to do battle with groaning shelves and frayed pages.

Our final selection saw Plato thrown together with John Le Carre, and Defoe’s Moll Flanders getting intimate with Holly Golightly and Nabokov’s Lolita – keeping good company one and all.

Other pairings were perhaps more appropriate, like a Penn University Press book on The Poetics of Imperialism and Conrad’s Lord Jim, or an unencountered Proust novel with R. D. Laing’s The Divided Self.

Still, all this heavy literary name-dropping aside, the best thing about this visit was the chance to get my hands on about 10 old Everyman editions of the classics. Some seemed quite random (I won’t say completely random because who knows where the holes in my literary historical knowledge might lie), but the main point wasn’t to read the books, but to own them.

In my post-kindle (or two) world, the relation between buying books and reading them has changed completely. On Kindle, I will buy on impulse, (it’s only ‘1-Click’ after all), virtually fork out the 4.99 GBP and promptly forget all about the book if I don’t need to read it for work or for class. It exists on my e-reader and assumedly backed-up somewhere in Amazon’s labyrinthine archives, but as far as I’m concerned it might as well not exist in my possession at all – nothing more, really, than an item on my debit card bill.

But real books – on dead trees? Now there’s something I’d like to own. Not read, necessarily, but just own. Looking ahead into the e-future of everything, I can’t help but think (like most people) that reading an actual book may eventually disappear. But the physical book itself will not. Instead, e-book reading will bring about an increase in the value of a book, as they turn into possessions people want to own for the sake of having them.

Maybe this is awfully sad, the book divorced from its world-building, escapist capabilities, or it’s function as a commentary on real life, but looking at my shelf of new, hard-backed, gilt-edged ‘possessions’, I find it hard to agree.

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Assimilation and Driving

How long can you live in a place before it’s starts to affect your personality?

It’s been over two years that I’ve lived in Israel and only now do I find myself morphing into an Israeli. It’s not that I actively tried not to before, just that I never found myself intensely affected by the difference in culture one way or another. but how strange that I should begin to mimic exactly what irritates me the most.

Simultaneously to raging vociferously (inside my car of course, with the windows tightly shut and sound muffled) about the Israeli need to beep when the traffic light turns orange, or of driving too fast or compulsively needing to change lanes to fill any available gap and get to one’s destination that much faster, I drive the exact same way. And the thought of driving any other way makes me rage even more.

Thankfully, I still believe in the sanctity of indicating, or as the Americanized Israeli’s put it, ‘putting on de blinkerrr’, a lost skill that has nearly disappeared from the Israeli road. My parking is also faultless, though I try not to read too much into my obsessive need to stay within the lines. But I wonder how long it will be before I too decide to park on a slant, taking up two bays and sticking my vehicular rear-end into the lot, and before my ‘blinkerr’ turns off, once, and for all.