Sunday, January 31, 2010

Can’t You Smell that Smell?

No, I'm not talking about the barking spiders from the other day. I finally got all the books I want to get rid of listed on Amazon last night.

For those that don't know, I majored in Native American Studies and minored in Political Science and I've found that several of these books have a decent resale value. As I was flipping through the pages so I could accurately describe the condition of the books the smells buffeting my face took me back.

One thing I rediscovered through all this is how glad I am that I no longer smoke. At first the the smell of clove cigarette smoke coming off the pages was okay, now I just want it out of my house. The other scent that took me back had to do with the particular bookshop where I purchased several of my Native Studies books—Rising Arrow in Sunnyvale, CA. They went out of business years ago, but the smells of tanned leather and sage still cling to the pages of these books despite the cigarette smoke.

And of course underlying it all is the simple smell of a book, which made me remember this article about book preservation.

I decided to reread The Tortilla Curtain before getting rid of it. And I decided to keep A History of Far Eastern Art. Even though I could probably sell the art book for $40, I really got a lot from the class and the book, not to mention it's just a beautiful book.

When we were at the Art Institute of Chicago last October I was amazed that I could still tell a jue from a jia from a ding and whether it was made in the Zhou, Shang, or Han dynasty. I was actually surprised by the number of items I could at least partially identify.

Like this head of Bhairava from Nepal.

Or this Chinese-style (?) Guanyin (Avalokiteshvara).

I'm reasonably certain this is Vishnu depicted on this stele.

And this Karttikeya on a peacock from India.

It's more than a little disappointing that I'm still paying off my student loans for a B.A. that is less than relevant to my career and daily life. As for boosting my pay—now that I'm and editor, I make slightly more than I did at McDonald's in 1997—so naturally, I found this comic painfully true. In fact, the classes that have stuck with me (Far Eastern Asian Art History, American Indian Art History, and Geology to name a few) were classes I took in junior college (and therefore owe no money on). And while these classes also have no bearing on my career or daily life, I do feel enriched for having taken them.

1 comment:

  1. LOL how about my B.S. and how much it gets used in my daily life? :D I have to admit I did teach a TAG class one quarter about government. And David keeps telling me that just having that degree helps me stay ahead of Kyle. I am not sure if I believe him or not, but it is a nice thing for him to say!