The chance of my acquisition of a damaged book is a puzzle I solve about my own inclinations. It is an opportunity to transcend myself, and in so doing, rediscover old loves, follow new threads of interest. Something about the partial erasure of information by damage in the form of time and or physical destruction acts as catalyst for this process which then becomes the ground for writing. For me, the reading and translating is only the first step and the research that I do is all for ambiance, not accuracy. In The Nature of Fire, I enjoyed the personality of de Beausobre; a little fey, a little pompous, and from a later century’s scientific point of view, sometimes laughable. Still, there is such heart beneath the science, and he takes such obvious delight in his own intellectual understanding. Reading science or criticism (which also purports to be logical, in the vein of scientific method) and using them as inspiration for writing confirm Adorno’s dictum: Art is magic liberated from the lie of having to be true. But what really quickens my interest is how I will use the totality of the book: the personality of the author, the particular language of place and time, the look of the page, the nicks, scratches, torn corners, battered covers; the missing pages. Lacunae: what might have been as important as what is, lost alchemical texts we must re-create.
All books are damaged, in that they are partial; fragments of life that we choose.
Creation comes from damage. Each of us puts together a new and different whole from the pieces of the world. Not “picking up the pieces,” but selecting the fragments, the particles, the way they look in the afternoon light, on the desk, or on the edge of sleep, falling open.
–from “The Book, The Leaf, The Skive of the Cover: Why I Love Damaged Books” by Carol Ciavonne
found in Pleiades 31.1