Nancy Grayson’s Bookstore
Nancy Grayson’s Bookstore – Portland, Maine – Photo by Corey Templeton
Nancy’s used bookstore is closing.
It was the best bookshop in town—
prints and photos of old Portland
on the walls, classical music
always playing as she sipped tea,
by her collection of small busts
of great composers and authors
that seemed to chide the larger statue
of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
you could see through the store window
overlooking Longfellow Square.
The bookstore down in the Old Port
died a year or so ago. I bought
a novel by Wendell Berry there
and the owner talked to me
eagerly about Wendell’s work.
Now there are only four bookstores
left in Portland, three used, one new.
The store in Monument Square sells
magazines, cards, travel novels,
and commercial fiction. It feels
more like an airport concession
than a place to linger and talk
to the owner about new books.
The used bookstore on Munjoy Hill
is more for collectors of rare,
costly antiquarian books,
but The Green Hand with its life-size
stuffed seven foot Yeti that greets
us at the door is to announce
an Old Curiosity Shoppe
with a museum of “Weird Life”
at the back that can speak volumes
about the fossils of old books.
Russ’s Yes used bookstore across
from Starbucks at High and Congress
is like a rent-controlled pre-war,
dark, downtown New York apartment
cluttered with the secret thoughts
of someone proud of depression
as a badge of adjustment to
to universal suffering.
With high piles of books on the floor
that block the shelves, you can’t see what
Russ has behind, so you end up
not able to buy anything.
Used bookstores are cemetaries—
books weathered tombstones of authors
once famous but now forgotten:
Thomas Costain, Eugene Field,
Charles Morgan, Philip Wylie.
And, of course, I find myself here
in an unread first edition—
hardbound from 1981.
But now it is not just authors
that are becoming fading ghosts,
but bookstores and books themselves.
e-books will ephemeralize
literature and history,
until some solar maximum
wipes out ipads and ATMs
and we are left in the clutter
of our own silent devices
to start from scratch on rocks again.
I think the Great Pyramid must
be a CD for which we’ve lost
the reader; or perhaps the gods
gave up and took it back with them
to the stars in Orion’s Belt.
William Irwin Thompson (born July, 1938) is known primarily as a social philosopher and cultural critic, but he has also been writing and publishing poetry throughout his career and received the Oslo International Poetry Festival Award in 1986. He has made significant contributions to cultural history, social criticism, the philosophy of science, and the study of myth. He describes his writing and speaking style as “mind-jazz on ancient texts”. He is an astute reader of science, social science, history, and literature. He is the founder of the Lindisfarne Association.
His book, Still Travels: Three Long Poems was published in 2009 by Wild River Books. Order a copy from Amazon.
Works by William Irwin Thompson
Memoir – Farewell Address at the Lindisfarne Fellows Conference
Memoir – Pilgrimage to Lindisfarne: 1972
Memoir – The Founding of the Lindisfarne Association in New York, 1971-73 – Part I
Memoir – The Founding of the Lindisfarne Association in New York, 1971-73 – Part 2: A Community in Fishcove, Long Island
Memoir – Building a Dream – Part One: Lindisfarne in Crestone, Colorado, 1979-1997
Memoir – My Dinner with Andre Gregory: Lindisfarne-in-Manhattan, 1977-1979
Memoir – Building a Dream/The Shadow Side Part Two: Lindisfarne in Crestone, Colorado, 1979-1997
Memoir – Building a Dream/The Cathedral Part Three: Lindisfarne in Crestone, Colorado, 1979-1997
Memoir – Conclusion: The Economic Relevance of Lindisfarne
Memoir – Raising Evan and Hilary: Reflections of a Homeschooling Parent
Memoir – Sex and the Commune
Memoir – Raising Evan and Hilary
Memoir – With Gregory Bateson’s Mind in Nature
After Heart Surgery: Hokusai’s Great Wave
A Lazy Sunday Afternoon
Nancy Grayson’s Bookstore
On Reading “The Penguin Book of English Verse”: on my iPad and Exercise Bike
Wild River Books/Poetry – Nightwatch and Dayshift: Cezanne
Anatolian Days and Nights and the Cultural Evolution of Spirituality
And the Votes are In: The American Elections of 2010
Avatar – When Technology Displaces Culture
Bedtime Story for a Civilization
The Big Picture: Reflections on Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines
The Big Picture, II
Child Abuse and the Catholic Church
The Digital Economy of W. Brian Arthur
From Shamanism to Religion, Part Two
From Religion to Post-Religious Spirituality, Part Three
From Religion to Post-Religious Spirituality: Conclusion
January 1, 2011: Reflections on the Philosophical Notions of Republicans
January 6, 2011 – Part Two: The Etherealization of Capitalism
Nature and Invisible Environments
Of Culture and the Nature of Extinction
On Nuclear Power
On Religion – Part One
On Religion and Nationalism: Ireland, Israel, and Palestine
On Transnational Military Interventions
A Pagan Ur-Text of the Lebor Gebála Érenn
Part 1 – The Shift from Industrial to a Planetary Civilization
Part 2 – The Shift from an Industrial to Planetary Civilization
Part 3 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – The Recovery of a Cosmic Orientation
Part 4 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civlization – The Global War for Drugs
Part 5 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – The New Jerusalem
Part 6 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Catastrophes as the Spur to Institute Tricameral Legislature
Part 7 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Complex Dynamical Systems and Tricameral Legislatures
Part 8 – The Shift from a Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Israel and Palestine: Sic transit gloria mundi
Part 9 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civlization – On Sarah Palin and the Technocratic Society
Part 10 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – On Conspiracy Narratives as Expressive of the Transition from the Nation: State to the Noetic Polity
Part 11 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Global Awareness and Personal Identity
Part 12 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Conclusion: The United Nations
Political Meditation for the Fourth of July, 2011: Can We Shift from Empire Back to Republic?
St. David’s Day, 2011, Technology and Social Change
Saint Patrick’s Day, 2010: Us and Them: Identity and the State
Some Reflections on Hurricane Sandy and an Outline for a New Civilization
Technical Hubris: and the Sinkhole of Obama’s Centrism
Television and Social Class
Thanksgiving Day, 2010: The Uses and Abuses of History
The Elections of 2010
Thoughts on My new Kindle App: on My Mac iPad