My new affiliation is the research center, at the Chicago Historical Society. That is on the third floor. Arrangements of new place be roughly similar to the old place, the Newberry, a "private" library. This new place, though, is a better chicken coop for me to fluff my feathers in. Maybe I could still use the old place, but I found myself going there less often, than I had been. This new one is a better chicken coop for me to fluff my feathers in. You see, I couldn't take those hot light bulbs in the Newberry. That's it.
I couldn't take the heat, you see. It's what you call, Um ----- Well!! Thass just the problem---I don't know what word to insert, at this point! I'm not cultured, I suppose! It appears to be the case that only persons of very, very high social status are destined to feel comfortable at the elegant, and PRIVATE, Newberrie Librarrie on Chicago's darling the near north side. Gold Coast, you know. So there is the snob perspective. And I must say, I am very concerned that the precious snob perspective on life seems to be in decline. Our snobs are, after all, one aspect of our society. I am so sorry to say that the snob thing no longer was working for me.
And, when I was trying to describe it, I was not sure of the word to use. But I am thinking maybe it is something like "surveillance" or being watched where by "watched" we mean something like evaluated or judged. It's hard for me to nail this completely and it is interesting that I don't know why that is the case. Maybe it is my lovely Asperger's Syndrome, or maybe not---there is the feeling of expectation, that I should be something or live up to something. But, no matter what they ask or want I cannot be the kind of person I am not. That hardly anyone is? I could feel the expectation or status thing or that I was supposed to live up to certain social, and class, standards.
What I have sympathy with or what I can "understand" is that there is a belief in (and hence an asking for, or expectation of) quality, in that the Newberry persons want to be around quality people.
While this is something I can understand, there is also a problem which is that, for all its faults, this is also an egalitarian type of a society, and, if these high status individuals, whose status I do not question for a moment, want to show off their colorful feathers made of finest materials (e.g. awesomely good art on walls, and also, behind one particular counter, some pretty girls!!!), and keep the rest of society from seeing or being where they should not, OK. I understand. There are different sorts of person. But when you try to insulate yourself against the rude mass, the less cultured persons, and when you try to do that with purposeful, obsessive, and excessive zeal, what is left? What you have left is basically an Edith Wharton novel.
So, all this is a big problem and I am very sympathetic and it is something that probably Richard Sennett is working on. (I see the lesson for all us chickens: if want to become a more cultured person you need a better incubator.)
I have a long essay about the new place, too, the Society of History, or the History Museum I think. I will not necessarily be posting it here. [insert descending pitch effect.] But let me tell you the news. The new venue, which is also closer to my (new) apartment, is more casual, more "shirtsleeves-ish." There's a word! Even so it is the same basic set-up. There is the book retrieval, the research, and the numbered seats too.
But Boy, at the N., it was like you had to wade through the snobbery or there was something too heavy in their air. It's actually hard to breathe, dude!
We need everyone. This is an egalitarian society. That includes snobs too, I guess. That's why I am trying to avoid intentionally denigrating Newberry. I think there is only one American social structure. I think there is one basic European social form, one particular thing. And that is the only thing that will create results. You have to give the Newberry their due, because the basic social form includes diversity. And, snobs have rights too. Sure they do, so let us applaud them. They exist; just as others exist. You can do geneology research here, on some of those others, or you can look at the exhibits, or at the pictures. I am sure there are uses for that fucking place; and I am trying not to denigrate anyone. OK? But they still do it to themselves if they look silly. I mean, I don't have to work at it. I don't need to do that for them. They have two huge reading rooms, each one is bigger than the entire reading room at the place on Clark and North and there are thus more empty seats in the other place. There are probably about the same number of persons total; that is because most persons there are studying their family lines, their geneology. At the Chicago Historical Society, or Museum, they seem more like they are scholars or working professionals, not geneology people or the occassional gentrified academic goon studying an old poet from the fourteenth century. (Not to say this is a bad thing, mind you)
The displays and special exhibits are of high-quality. You can see awesome things. These are things you will not see elsewhere: for example an exhibit of the drawings of military fortifications included a drawing depicting the king and others having lunch as they and theirs lay seige to some city in Belgium or something. The thing you notice is the utter, bland willingness to kill. So, thanks! Newberry. For showing! This kind of thing is also what you see when you take a serious look at history. We still do the same thing, in Afghanistan or Iraq or Waziristan. So, basically, it is appropriate to see the king of France, in 1699, laying seige to some city, creating death, killing the lower-level people. Thanks, Newberry; or, the paintings in the reading rooms. Wow. They started out as being some kind of amazing art, the likes of which I'd never seen, but ended up more as faces doing surveillance work on me. From the walls.
No, I am not criticizing. I am not interposing my personal ideas here. There is nothing to criticize, no point in criticizing. I just tended to avoid the Newberry after awhile because for me it was somehow too stuffy. Or I am not high enough class or something. If you want to know what a lowly being like myself really thinks about life, you have to just look at this blog very carefully, until you get it. That's how scholarship works, too.
When you visit Chicago as part of an upcoming JacksGreatBlog tour of the city you can make up you OWN minds about where you'd like to go. What'll it be, folks? The Newberrie or the Chicago Historical Society?
Goodbye from the Windy and arrogant city...