20 February, 2008

Urban Aesthetic and Reanimation

Despite many recent posts to the contrary, this blog is supposed to be about the Urban Aesthetic; the rediscovery of forgotten value. I want to write about the rebirth and renewal that I see every day in cast-off things. My goal in community development is to find value where I live. This disinvested neighborhood needs to be appreciated and nurtured, rejuvenated and loved. The Urban Aesthetic is finding new use -inspired by the muses of necessity- for unwanted things, ideas and people. For lack of a segue, I give you:

The Reanimation Library

The Reanimation Library collects books that have been deemed useless and out-moded by the rest of society and returns them to circulation as a resource for "artists, writers and other cultural archaeologists." It is based in Brooklyn and claims to harbor books from "thrift stores, stoop sales and throw-away piles across the country." My boxes of forgotten books are no longer the only collection of its kind. The curator is slowly scanning interesting pictures from the various volumes, re-envisioning library like Dr. Frankenstein saw rotting corpses.

All the pictures are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 license. creative commons license

(This means you can use the images, but you can't make money off of them and you must credit to the source.)

The curator, Andrew Beccone has this to say about his delightful collection:
Although unbeknownst to me at the time, the collection that would become the Reanimation Library began at 3:19 P.M. on September 8th, 2001, when I purchased Karl U. Smith and William M. Smith's The Behavior of Man: An Introduction to Psychology for $1.37 at a Goodwill in Saint Paul. Although I had frequented thrift stores since the early 1990's, I had rarely purchased books from them. I was absolutely amazed by the quality and number of graphics in The Behavior of Man, and my subsequent thrift outings became focused on finding more books like it. This turned out to be easier than I had thought: once I began searching thrift stores, garage sales, library sales, and junk stores, I found many more books filled with diagrams, illustrations, and pictures covering a wide expanse of human knowledge. And the surprising thing was that for the most part, these books had been removed from the public sphere of information - they were the unwanted discards of libraries and personal collections. It was fortunate for me, although somewhat confusing, that no one seemed to want these books. [emphasis mine]
I have seen too many boxes of unwanted books sitting by the curb after an unsuccessful yard-sale. I have probably taken too many boxes of those books home with me too, but if you want to hear complaints, talk to my bookshelves. Mr. Beccone is encouraging a new environmentalism: reuse before recycle. Or maybe this is recycling...or maybe both at the same time. The point is: someone found "useless, unwanted things" and has turned them into something new and beautiful. These books have been rescued from their societally abandoned ash pile and are being digitized (and improved) as an affordable and shareable medium.

This reminds me of Christ. He is in the business of making all things new: my neighborhood, our political system, our ways of life. He restores my soul, our souls. The restoration that he brings to our lives allows us to holistically renew the communities around us.

If you have had any meaningful interactions with the Urban Aesthetic lately, drop me a comment. Anyone want to roadtrip to Brooklyn?

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