Monday, 24 February 2014

Legacy? History?

We were clearing the bookcases the other day to make room for some more books when it struck us just how many bibles we have in the house. I am certainly not a church goer (I don't consider myself a Christian) – and yet I find it difficult to throw out a bible, in much the same way as I would find it hard to throw a book – any book – on to a bonfire. Ordinarily this wouldn’t exercise my mind too much – it’s just part of my cultural baggage, but I’m toying with the idea of using either ‘legacy’ or ‘history’ – or perhaps even ‘loss’ as the abstract concept for assignment 2. So just by way of an experiment I’ve shot the front and the dedication of the four bibles directly associated with me. These are quite rough shots – I’m just trying them out. The question in my mind is really – is there some sense of narrative in them? Or is it just me? Does it matter if it’s just me? Currently I don’t know. If there were more of them – perhaps a family tree’s worth I think the case would be stronger.
Dad Mum
These two belonged to Dad (left) who considered becoming a lay preacher and perhaps training for the ministry, and died holding religion in pretty low esteem, and Mum, who I suspect never really thought that deeply about it. I find it quite poignant that although Mum’s bible was obviously quite fancy – it has a plastic coated high gloss cover which must have seemed quite special back in the 40’s – there is no inscription.
The second two belong to me – the blue one – and Marion.
Nigel Marion
Although it’s not apparent mine is considerably smaller than Marion’s and anyone who knew our two families would be unsurprised to discover that mine is a traditional, leather bound King James version, while Marion’s is a rather more modern and user friendly Good News version. The observant would also spot that Marion’s has a rather more detailed inscription than mine – which reflects the ties Marion’s family have with the local church (technically chapel – but in my mind that has a pious ring to it which doesn’t suit).
To me these relatively modest books fall into the category of Sherry Turkle’s Evocative Objects “…when we consider objects as companions to our emotional lives or as provocations to thought.” Further on Turkle suggests that most objects exert their holding power because of the particular moment and circumstance in which they come into our life. In the case of these bibles that is certainly true – my parents’ bibles ended up in my possession on their death – and as you can tell from the inscriptions the other two emerge from a common experience in mine and Marion’s lives together. In other words they are part of our shared legacy irrespective of how time as altered the ways we perceive the event that we shared. How could we possibly throw them away?
Turkle, S. (Editor), 2007. Evocative Objects: things we think with. Kindle ed. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT press.


  1. Interesting post. I have two fishing rods, one of which was an 18th birthday present - I had them shipped to Australia when I remembered that I had left them behind. I still use them occasionally - and its probably correct that I consider them so form of companion, rather than an object of utility. SM

  2. Interesting that adding an inscription (which usually includes a date) is in itself an act of documentary. Especially in a family where books are given as gifts. I have inscribed books (poetry mostly) from my Confirmation, 8th birthday, 18th birthday and various other occasions that perhaps I wouldn't treasure nearly as much if I didn't know exactly what moment that book was taking me back to.
    - Hummingblonde

    1. Just re-read this and checked our cupboards - you also have inscribed books for at least your 5th, 6th and 10th birthdays from a variety of sources :)