On Flirtation

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Read 08/02/2017-13/02/2017

Rating: 2 stars

I’ve had Adam Phillips’ book, On Flirtation, on my bookshelf for more than ten years. I bought it on the recommendation of someone highly inappropriate with whom I was flirting, at a time when someone else was flirting with me and I was flirting with the idea of being a more hedonistic person than had previously been the case.

I enjoy flirting. I like that feeling of uncertainty, the thrill of what might happen, whether it’s stepping too close to the edge of something safely dangerous, or making eyes at someone attractively unattainable. I like the sense that I could become someone different by flirting with possibility, but not having to commit to it. I also like that it ends as soon as it becomes boring, or as soon as something more important takes up your attention.

I started reading On Flirtation for The Reader’s Room Winter Challenge. I was looking forward to it. I expected it to be a book about what flirtation is, why we do it, what its hidden meaning and purpose might be. The opening sentences of the first two paragraphs confirmed what I think about flirting.

The fact that people tend to flirt only with serious things – madness, disaster, other people – and the fact that flirting is a pleasure, makes it a relationship, a way of doing things, worth considering.

Exploiting the ambiguity of promises – the difference, say, between someone being promising and someone making a promise – flirtation has always been the saboteur of a cherished vocabulary of commitment.

Sadly, it didn’t turn out to be a treatise on flirtation. It was more of an exploration of and challenge to psychoanalytic dogma. Not the book I wanted at all. I’d go as far as saying the blurb on the back cover was misleading. Continue reading

Archive Fever

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Read 01/04/2016-03/04/2016

Rating: 3 stars

This book has been on my shelf for almost a decade. People who think about what archives are and what archiving is refer to it a lot. I was at a conference recently about the role of research in museums, and I found myself thinking about my own attitude to research, and to reflection. I came to the conclusion that I am a do-er rather than a thinker. I would rather do the practical job of being an archivist, gaining satisfaction from collecting archives and describing them, then making them accessible to the people who do the thinking. I’m not one for contemplating my own navel, which is how thinking about archives feels to me. That’s why I’ve never picked it up before now.

I picked it up now because I nominated it for the March Madness challenge on The Reader’s Room. So I had to read it! Continue reading