The third book on Kindle. Looking around for something to take on a long journey, as I remember. And I turned to a favourite author - Nicholson Baker - and a bit of a compilation, called Vintage Baker. I don't really know why I highlighted these bits. But it's good to see them again.
Just on it's own. This bit. Lovely.
"Shoes are the first adult machines we are given to master."
Then, a long sequence about the notion that it would be nice, sometimes, for good things to be undiscovered for a bit, not instantly swept up by trendhunters and best ofs.
"At times it’s fun to be part of a society so intent on institutionalizing its response to novelty. Our toes are curled right around the leading edge of the surfboard. Nothing far out will catch us off guard. We will monitor left field continually, and no hint of activity from that quarter will elude our scrutiny. But there are ill effects, nervous tics, symptoms of exhaustion, that arise in an audience when it oversolicits the heteroclite. Newness ought to suffer a period of frost—it should even have to submit, for its own good, to entrenched and outraged resistance. Neglect gives a winsome oddity more time to perform important tests on itself; widespread narrowmindedness shelters surprise.
No one will blame a publisher who has discovered an out-of-print minor masterpiece and feels it his duty to enrich and uplift the human spirit by publishing it in paperback, with a beautiful, spare, up-to-the-minute cover design. That is his job. But sometimes we can’t help wishing he would wait, and just buy one old copy for himself from an antiquarian dealer, preserving for at least a few more years the delight of private, proprietary knowledge, the ecstasy of arriving at something underappreciated at the end of a briareous ramification of footnotes, since the hope of such secrets is one of the things that keep us reading. Rough timetables, “appreciation schedules,” may be of some guidance. That pad dotted on both sides with suction cups, to which you can vertically affix a wet bar of soap while you are in the shower? It should remain unmentioned by any magazine’s “New and Noteworthy” column for six months. Each of us should have a fair chance of finding it, hanging unheralded from a hook in the hardware store, on our own.
A good poem, as Horace suggested, ought to have a nine-year news blackout. And a major leisure item—a new sort of inflatable raft, for example—deserves at least five summers of quiet superiority before it gets a Best Buy rating from Consumer Reports and leans against the wall in the sporting-goods department at the high-volume discounters. After all, this successful raft—with its revolutionary osmotic inflatervalve—displaces several other very good makes of raft, which once so proudly rode the crest; and when we look through the still-hopeful catalogs of these inferior raft-crafters, and sense their anguish, deepening monthly, as they watch their sales go into steep decline, then they begin to take on rarity— the rarity of the underdog, one of the most seductive kinds— and we discover ourselves feeling, too soon, that we must root for the second-rate product. (Haven’t you felt a peculiar sort of worry about the chair in your living room that no one sits in? Haven’t you sometimes felt sleeve-tugs of compassion and guilt over an article of clothing that you dislike and therefore scarcely wear? Haven’t you at least once secretly sat down in the hardly-sat-in chair, wearing that ugly shirt, in order to rectify these inequities?) A little lengthening of the time it takes for new merit to out, for rare proficiencies to make their sudden bundle, would allow our sympathy for the underdog and our excitement in superiority to coincide; too rapid a transmittal of the knowledge of relative greatness, on the other hand, eliminates that beautiful period when these emotions overlap."
And there's this bit, about the various processes you can set in train, just by ordering stuff and paying for it.