Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Lectiograph

Walking to the office this morning, I was thinking of a word to describe a captured image of one's "reading life" -- sort of a mental snapshot of the books one is currently preoccupied with. The word "bibliography" came to mind. So I searched for its definition and etymology in Google. Found out that it came from the Greek word bibliographia meaning "the writing of books". The first time it was used in its modern sense to refer to a list of books on a particular subject was in 1869. Interesting, but not quite the word I was looking for. Finally deciding that the concept was too complex for a Google search, I tried inventing a term. And I came up with the title for this post. Lectio is of course Latin for "reading". But it also means "picking out", which is even closer to what this post is all about.

I painted my room beige last Saturday. The night before that, I had to remove all of my things and pile them up somewhere in the kitchen. And these things included my growing book collection. With my eyes squinting and my nose starting to itch from the dust, I realized I have about half a lifetime left to read all of my books. So, as I was putting them back into these boxes, I picked out titles that I would be prioritizing in the next few weeks. That yielded around ten to fifteen books. The next thing I did was to plan out my strategy. There was this erotic film that I saw last week at the university film center, "The Pillow Book". And the pillow book is just that: a bedside reading material that ends up under one's pillow. But this ancient pillow book in the movie was very peculiar as it contained nothing but lists of things. That provided initial inspiration for lectiograph.

So, here's my current lectiograph.

Books I'm reading at the moment:
  1. Time Frames: The Evolution of Punctuated Equilibria by Niles Eldredge (1985). Been reading this for weeks now. Midway, had to pick up John Irving's Water-Method Man to provide this mind some rest from all those concepts on evolutionary theory. But Eldredge's book is certainly worth reading. Gives a different perspective on the role of ecological processes on evolution. For instance, generalists (also "k strategists") or species that are able to exploit a wider range of environmental conditions are not necessarily privileged in evolutionary terms. While most generalists would tend to show a lower extinction rate, they also experience less speciation. And with reduced structural variation comes boring reproductive behaviors. Good thing that Eldredge concluded we're not strictly generalists.
  2. Titan by Stephen Baxter (1997). Guess that a fourth of my collection right now would be science fiction and fantasy books. So my lectiographs would probably often include one or two sf or fantasy titles. I've read Baxter's Voyager a few years ago. That was my first encounter with this aeroengineer. Voyager belongs to the alternate history genre of sf and answers the question: what if the U.S. went ahead with a manned mission program to Mars as early as 1996? This time, with his Titan, the target would be Saturn's methane-covered satellite. Years ago, Carl Sagan speculated on the similarities of current Titan conditions to the early life-forming environments on Earth. With the recent Cassini-Huygens mission to the Jovian system, I think now is the right time to read this book.
  3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling (1997). All these years, I've always relied on my daughter to supply me with missing details in the Harry Potter films. With the more exciting Goblet of Fire, and the latest installment of the printed series, The Half-Blood Prince, thought I had to do something about my ignorance once and for all. So, finally borrowed the first book from my daughter's collection and have been poring over it since then. Although everything has been preempted of course since I've already seen the films. Just the same, it's still interesting to know that Harry's wand had the same type of phoenix feathers as that of You-Know-Who, that Hagrid's first name is Rubeus, and that Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans could sometimes taste like sprouts, pepper or even booger. Wicked!
Next time, Books I'm planning to read . . .

2 comments:

silayan said...

dear rands,
bagong discovery ko ang blog mo thanks to daisy's blog which listed it.i have to say, it has been salvation and grace and become a daily ritual. asar nga ako kung wala kang entry (which has been for a while now). so salamat! for giving me a flavor of home and complex thoughts to digest (di ko lahat ma-digs but ignorance can also be exciting and humbling to feel). sulat ako ulit ha!
labs, aimee

the martian said...

hi aims!!! yup, sure, balik at sulat ka lang. but don't always take these things seriously ha. salsal na lang yung iba d'yan. hehe.