Monday, September 20

The weight of the books

I bend down for the umpteenth time to carry a stack of books, we’re almost done with it. I see the shelves full and I think of my home library, the one I left in Buenos Aires with my favorite editions, some signed by their authors, my edition of Joan Margarit dedicated in Barcelona, ​​before the pandemic, the one that is worth more because it was a gift from him. However, for those weird and silly things in life I brought only one book, one that, by the way, is not mine. Or that I just brought it to me because of that, because it’s not mine. And it is also signed by Joan but for someone else. Those last minute decisions: what do I do with this thing that isn’t mine? But it is not from the person to whom she was thinking of giving it, it is not, but her name is on the first page, it is not hers nor is it anyone’s. So I brought it in just in case, in case after a year I have a better idea than to keep keeping it. Nicole tells me to tear off the page and keep it, which is a beautiful hardcover edition. But the truth is that even knowing that I didn’t get another pin in my suitcases, I made a place for nobody’s book. Books are too heavy, but I had no idea what one that was truncated on the way could weigh: Barcelona / Buenos Aires / Buenos Aires / Madrid. Madrid.

He had heard stories many times about entire libraries left in cities that exiles could not return to. Not far from my case. But this Sunday in the bookstore, behind closed doors, I think about the real weight of books. The weight of words, the symbolic and the real. I always loved that quote from Wilde about the comma: “I spent the whole afternoon working on the proofs of one of my poems. In the morning I put a comma, and in the afternoon I took it off again.” The weight of a comma. The effective weight of words. The central from Barcelona. The books that crossed the sea twice, the new library that I will begin to build in this new city one day. Airports, excess baggage. Memory, excess memory. The memory of the exact order of each one of them. Some loins of Anagrama faded by the sun. Some repeated from when he had the obsession to buy the three copies that were available because, although it was the same, he wanted all three, although later he ended up giving them away. But it disturbs me not knowing what to do with this one that I have stored in my empty suitcase, the one that belongs to nobody, the one that belonged to someone for a single afternoon without knowing it, the one that says: “For Y, from your friend Joan”, with blue ink. The one that many times I think you do not deserve, and so many others make me want to put it in a mailbox and send it to your house. And others I think about paying attention to that of tearing the page and keeping it, but like that comma that Wilde put in the morning and in the afternoon he removed again, so aware of the change, I think that I will pay more attention to the absent page and its truncated destiny.

In one of my favorite John Berger books, From A to X, Aida tells Xavier that the ephemeral is not the opposite of the eternal. That the opposite of the eternal is the forgotten. That there are those who live thinking that the forgotten and the eternal are the same thing. That they are wrong. He says that those who are right are those who think that the eternal needs us. I don’t know what I’m going to do with this Joan’s book. But I know the exact weight of its 175 pages and if I close my eyes I can even smell the cover. And yes, I keep it because it no longer belongs to anyone, it does not matter if it is from A to X or from A to Y or from J to A. This book is eternal. It is the summary of the library that I did not bring to Madrid.

By the way, the book measures 22 x 15 centimeters and weighs 374 grams without dedication, with it, it is infinite.

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