Sunday, August 6, 2017

If the Los Angeles Central Library is a sanctuary at all...

If the Los Angeles Central Library is a sanctuary at all, it’s a sanctuary for refractory noises. The History department is all ambient sighs, scamperings, minute percussions, canters of steam, incessant flapping of wings, whooshes, rushes, a riot of perfunctory hums.

Only when the silence breaks down, its innards eaten away by time and oxygen, conduits paper-thin like decayed leaves, only then can I see the naked mechanism behind every library silence, each moment of peace! Gases knock along the walls, dried-out pistons scrape the air for oil. The whole room heaves in exasperated breath. 

A man in a ski-cap to my left is taking notes, and with each annotation, smacks his hand on the page, as if each note and every thought were some ambushed mosquito no longer worthy of existence. Another man, sweating Biblically in thick velour, sings “These are a few of my favorite things,” snickering. Further down the carrels, by genealogy, an exasperated librarian works on a patron refusing to stand. “Are you inebriated?” her voice erupts in operatic surprise. 3 cops and 2 guards lead him out, like a kitten from a laundry basket.

I pore through Laquer’s history of Weimar, reading about the Berliner chansons, that right now make too little noise for this room.

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