Tuesday, April 11, 2006

For those of you with lingering doubts about our (well, at least MY) radical geekiness, let me put them to rest. First of all, I am using "radical" in its original meaning--"root"--not its 80's meaning of... well, you know. There are SOME geeky things that are even beyond me.

In a blog that is about our adventures in TORONTO, one would expect non-stop exciting tales about delicious, exotic restaurants, hopping clubs, breathtaking sights... But, in a blog about US in Toronto, you are going to have to settle with the everyday, but no less exciting (sometimes) tales of home-cooked vegetarian fare, holy week at St. Anne's Anglican Church and libraries at the University of Toronto. Leaving aside our daily bread at home and church, I wanted to acquaint all of you with the campus libraries of our dear University of Toronto. Don't leave yet! There really is a point!

The University of Toronto is home to no less than six Colleges, each from a different denominational background. St. Mikes is Catholic, Wycliffe is Anglican, Victoria is affiliated with the United Church, Knox with the Presbyterian, Regis with the Jesuits, and Trinity with the high Anglican. Anyway, each one of these small, lovely colleges has its own library, specializing in its particular tradition, but that also has books of general interest. Each one of these libraries is immaculately designed for not only a studious experience, but also an aesthetic one. As ICS students, we are allowed borrowing privledges at all of them. And of course, University of Toronto's own... Robarts.

Robarts is a 13 floor (yes, it has a floor thirteen, I am on it at least once a week) mostrosity of a building, designed in the sixties/seventies and the inspiration for Umberto Eco's *In the Name of the Rose* (I haven't read it, but I plan to this summer--you'll see why in what follows). For those of you who haven't read it and want a picture, Mike says, "From the moment you walk in your nose is assaulted by a stench of indeterminate origin, you are confronted with surly and unhelpful staff, half the time anything mechanical or computerized is broken, you are all but strip-searched to get into the stacks. Once in the stacks, after waiting an eternity and a half to get in an elevator that has a four in five chance of being broken, you squeeze down the claustrophobic row of seemingly endless, obscure books with no particular order to them as you squint through the dim and horrible fluorescent lighting, emitting a constant buzzing hum, which gives you a headache. If you are lucky enough to find the book that you need, which is truly a miracle, you had best get it back in plenty of time before it's due, because as often as books are lost in the shelves, they are lost in the book return. It truly is a monument to what happens when economists and mathematicians run wild with building projects." Everyone hates Robarts. If you are looking for another opinion, you could find about a thousand up here, but they would all sound about the same.

Now that you have a bit of the lay of "Library-land", I suppose it would surprise you (hey, it surprises me every day!) to know:

I can only work in Robarts.

While Mike is sitting reading away by the fireplace in an overstuffed chair in an acoustically savvy, hardwood floor room at Trinity Library, I find myself only really productive sitting in a partially broken, hard-backed chair in a graffiti-covered cubicle on either the 9th or 13th floor. I don't want this to be the case. I tried reading in those overstuffed chairs at Trinity, writing on the top floor of Victoria's library--overlooking the amazing striking art they hang. I can only account for my boorish-philistine-ness by claiming distractedness at the obvious aesthetic qualities of the other buildings. What else could it be?

As paper-writing season is in full swing, I have a feeling I am going to again get real cozy with the ugliness of Robarts--what can I say? it works for me! Though going into next year, I welcome any suggestions about interventions. I don't think this can go on much longer... Am I going to have to keep a "the ugly room" at home, too?

1 comment:

Kidgit said...

as a writer and someone with an immagination that goes all over the place, seeing you in Robarts it just gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. It's nice to know that despite all your intellectual muster you feel most at home with the homely and non academic writings of graffiti cubicle carving.

And isn't your ugly room the one with Mike's recliner in it?

Oh, and it's moNstrosity :)