20 June 2008

Kant vs. Kinsella

An experiment in libro-spatial relationships, inspired by LibraryThing.

In my recent discussion about my obsession with LibraryThing, I put special emphasis on the “UnSuggester,” which searches for books least likely to live in the same individual’s library. LibraryThing listed as an example in their sidebar: “If you like The Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant, then you won’t like Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella.”

This intrigued me. What might happen if these examples of matter and anti-matter were brought into close proximity? Would the rules of space and time warp? Would an unstable mixture result in an explosion, making all those nearby turn into rampaging green monsters who speak in third person whenever they grew angry? Dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria?

I was willing to risk all those things for the sake an answering this deep and disturbing question. So I ventured to the bookstore next door to locate the two books and book them side by side.

Unfortunately, Confessions of a Shopaholic was not on the shelves. I had seen it there last week, when I hatched the idea of trying this experiment, which means someone bought the only copy during the last week. Someone bought Confessions of a Shopaholic, but nobody bought Critique of Pure Reason. It is best that you do not think about the implications.

But I chose a decent substitute: Shopaholic Ties the Knot by Sophie Kinsella. Perhaps the effect won’t be so strong, but it will suffice.

I placed the two books side-by-side on a display shelf. Before anything could happen, I snapped this photo as proof that, yes, I did attempt this dangerous stunt:

Moments later…

I won’t torment you with the details. At least no one was seriously hurt. Fiery chunks of copies of Elements of the Philosophy of Right flew across the store and collided with exploding shards of The Devil Wears Prada, and almost claimed the lives of a family of five, but that was as bad as it got. I got out the back way without anyone noticing that I had caused it all.

However, when the mess dies down and the mall is re-built, I think I’ll try this with The Birth of Tragedy and Slow Waltz at Cedar Bend.