Thursday, February 12, 2009

Library Angels

That I ended up working in a library, after more than 30 years 'on the road' does not surprise me (though it startled some of my friends). Book Person.

And the most common experience for a real 'book person' - that keeps them addicted when confronted with everything that anyone ever wrote down - comes in the form of 'help' in research through synchronicities - the right book at the right time, to change your life. Further than that, if you become a researcher, the right passage in a book will be thrust in front of you (doesn't mean that you never do frustrating hours, days, weeks, months or even years, looking for something - sometimes you just have to relax and shrug).

And then what Koestler calls the 'library angels' can help you out. And I don't necessarily mean those pony-tailed beings in Berlin's public library, the Staatsbibliothek, in Wim Wenders' film 'Wings of Desire', although they could have something to do with it.

Robert Anton Wilson mentions their influence (but not by name) when he quotes from The Illuminoids on p8 of my edition of Cosmic Trigger

"A book by another Wilson, Colin Wilson's The Occult - was also discovered at just the right moment and often "fell open at the right page" just as Wilson says other references did for him."   RAW

And here, John Michell (quoted in "Is The Universe Friendly?")

“Study a subject, allow it to obsess you, ask questions of it, and next time you visit a library, a bookstore or a friend’s house, you may pick up the one book in the world which gives the answer you were looking for. Coincidences can be invoked. I have asked many writers about this, and nearly all of them were able to give striking personal examples of being helped by this useful aspect of the feedback effect which Arthur Koestler attributes to library angels.”

After reading through a score of library cases, wrote the late Arthur Koestler, “one is tempted to think of library angels in charge of providing cross-references.” Koestler was the one who put the seraphic spin on this particular species of good fortune. His library angel will be no stranger to many writers, readers and researchers. Whether she’s sister to serendipity, or just cousin to dumb luck, she seems to make her appearance at the moment when your guard is down. You’re either idly seeking some piece of trivia, or giving up on some search through the stacks, when suddenly the right book or magazine falls at your feet open at the right passage.

And sometimes, of course, that precious aid to research might just be a real live member of staff with deep knowledge, a 'feel' for their subject, and willing to follow a hunch.  but I still like the improbable...

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