The rolling snowball of knowledge has gradually accumulated weight during society’s educational, industrial, and technological rise. The dark corners of the unexplored have been blasted with light; every nook, cranny, crevice, and dust mite dismembered, analyzed, and put back together with the haste of perpetual possibility. The ideas behind literature are no different: Every genre has been explored and exploited to its limit. The most ludicrous of topics have been best-sellers; movies have been written and produced detailing the most insignificant events in human history. Make no mistake, the absurd is not being equated to the dull; rather the opposite. Our entertainment surpasses the boundaries of reality once society begins scraping the bottom of the barrel for ideas. Flirting with the edges to enter a zone of chaotic ingenuity, infinity is put on trial.
My constant pursuit of new information mixes an enticing cocktail. Liquid curiosity blends with the compelling notion that society’s best ideas spawn from desperation. With my first sip, I dive into the bizarre books of the world, greatly anticipating the envelopment of the unusual and the self-affirmation that comes from contrasting crazy.
Titles are the easy part. The Internet embraces weird, celebrating the absurd with vigor. My difficulty rests in purpose. A publication exists, but why? Books like “Yoga for Equestrians: A new path for achieving union with the horse,” and “Extreme Ironing,” garnered more confusion than satisfaction.
It didn’t compute. I have taken various marketing courses here at USI and I know there’s an intense and thorough process that a product goes through before it is released to the public, a safety net of sorts to ensure no money will be wasted. The biggest aspect marketers look for is desire, is there a need for the product? Is there an audience that is willing to spend money on this product? The fact that these books exist means yes, there is a need and there is an audience, or at least there was.
This revelation frightened me. Is there a gang of yoga-fanatics out there contorting their body into shapes along the spine of a confused horse? Are there people who, instead of jumping off airplanes, climbing mountains, or running marathons, are instead getting their kicks from ironing atop bridges? Or, in the case of the David Rice Library’s very own “Knitting with Dog Hair,” are there those who gradually horde their pet’s hair, anticipating the moment when they have enough fibers to knit a sock?
The question remains, what are we to do with these books? Perhaps categorize the literature as nothing more than detailed crazy, an irrelevant anomaly that obtrusively pushed its way into society only to live a shelved life. Doing so would be a severe injustice, however. Their existence as a physical representation of a demographical fad that came and went, and now viewed as a comical artifact, is surely cause for a generational analysis. Compiling the literature of the unusual would represent a portrait of human interest: A history. The books are a portrayal of who we are today, a testament to the past crazy that has shaped the current crazy.
Above all, it is the imaginative and perseverant individual behind the literature that I am most appreciative of, the person who shows that the bottom of the barrel is not a limitation, but a starting point for a new story.