I’m turning my home into the world’s least useful reference library. The latest acquisition: a massive bound volume comprising every issue of the Illustrated London News from January to June of 1878. A rich, densely storied, pictorially sumptuous catalogue of the Empire.
Those are the only issues of Illustrated London News I possess, and I’m not actively looking for more. But if the first half of 1878 is of interest to you, I have it covered. Or perhaps your area of study are sartorial and culinary fashions ca. the spring of 1953.
You may be researching the beginnings of colour television in New Zealand, a glimpse of which was provided to readers of the Weekly News in November of 1970 via the medium of colour photography.
Or political satire in Italy in late 1947.
Or feminist cartoons in the mid-eighties.
I add to these haphazard holdings every year, then tell you about it in this, my blog anniversary post. Old books. Old magazines. I’ve almost stopped worrying that I have so little interest in what is current.
It isn’t nostalgia, but a genuine fascination with earlier argument, precursors, beginnings. Old cultural atlases, one from 1967, the other from 1976.
How we imagined the coming ecological catastrophe in the 1950s.
Or began to think our way out of it in the 1970s.
It all helps to unsimplify the past. And then there is the pursuit of classics, including the ongoing, patient rebuild of the science-fiction library I dismantled before coming to New Zealand. To the extent that they are still in print, these, too, are books I far prefer to read in their contemporary editions, as the objects of popular consumption they once were.
But this year there was another, less fortunate category of acquisitions: old treasured favourites of my mother’s that I was in no rush whatsoever to inherit. Like this one.
Another year of blogging in the archives. This one was rather eventful, but I’ll skip the obvious, newsy stuff. I hosted my first guest posts, by Megan Clayton and Peter Alsop. I put out my hat, to which you responded most generously. One post got anthologised in a forthcoming book by AUP. I was a guest on Kim Hill’s show, which might have been a dream of mine had I known how to entertain it. These are all things I owe to the weekly practice of keeping this blog. However, the most valuable thing of all was having somewhere to write about and through some very difficult times. It helped me a lot and I thank you for reading everything but especially those posts.
My favourite blog tradition is the ceremonial changing of the banner. So today we salute Tim Denee’s offering
which replaced Dylan Horrocks’
which came after successive designs by Shirley Carran
which were all inspired by the original banner, an old drawing of Bert Warter’s from Bruno Furst’s 1945 classic Stop Forgetting.
This year I asked the wonderful Sarah Laing, who came back with so many ideas I may never have to ask anyone else (but I probably will anyway). It was very hard to choose. She tells me that the gymnast in the picture is Olga Korbut.
I leave you with the last yearful of posts in clickable mosaic form.