On Reading Alone
I report here on an encounter with a book, and an encounter with the problems of reading itself. The book: David Graeber's Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value. which I picked up following the trail of Marcel Mauss' The Gift (Graeber's book is a meditation on the differing visions of Mauss and Marx for economic life as read through the lens of anthropology). If you operate outside of institutions, which I typically do, one book leads to another and another along solitary and idiosyncratic paths. You often find yourself in a cloud of companionship with people you've never met, some living, some dead, some speaking native languages you have no acquaintance with. This is thrilling, but a little surreal. As you'll see, Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value was a pleasure to wrestle with and test ideas against, but for me it also represented the moment where I turned from an ideal of books engendering books in the future, to books as a way of making relationships in the present.