The Library

Feb 11, 2016 | Inspiration, Research, Writing

Here I am again in the library.

Not just any library.

This one is special.

When I first decided to write seriously this was one of my first discoveries.

Like a lot of discoveries, you want to keep it to yourself. If too many people know about it then it won’t be a rare place anymore. You fear that it will be inundated by the hoards.

This is nigh impossible in the Rijksmuseum library.

For such an imposing structure it is very effectively hidden away.

It is one of many clever surprises in the Rijksmuseum.

I first discovered it via the upper balcony.

The balcony enables you to look down on the library from above. You have a wonderful view of the entire room. It does not allow access to the actual library.

It’s almost as if you are viewing animals in a zoo. You get to see students, writers and researchers in their natural habitat.

I can hear David Attenborough narrating the scene.

Finding the entrance is a challenge.

On my way here today I stopped and admired a huge painting in the next room.

It is a mammoth portrait of the battle of Waterloo. Specifically, it portrays the end of the battle with all the leading protagonists in their final positions. They are all symbolised in their respective throes of defeat or triumph.

Along the next wall is a set of paintings depicting the Italian recreational town of Tivoli.

In between is a statue of David.

Not the one by Michelangelo, but one by a more modern sculpturer. David has a decidedly eighteenth century hairdo and is standing with sling in hand. It’s more romantic than anything else.

I can’t really picture this David standing on a battlefield and staring down someone three times his size.

All the works stem from around the same time. Different views of Europe in a tumultuous period of history. Northern Europe ravished by war juxtaposed with the artistic haven of Italy.

No wonder David is torn between going to war and heading off to the hairdresser.

After wading through this and finding a side exit you are led to the entrance to the library.

If you blink you will miss it.

Libraries are quiet places.

There is the traditional image of a librarian, covered in dust and cobwebs, hushing anyone who makes more noise than a church mouse.

This library is different.

It is not particularly quiet. People are wandering about. Some of them are taking photographs. The place is more than a library. It is a testament to writers.

I look up and try to ignore the people looking down at me.

I am surrounded on all sides by books.

Four storeys of books.

I am ringed by steel balconies, balustrades and a spiral staircase. It would make the most fabulous film set.

The books in the shelves are only a small selection of what the museum has to offer. Somewhere in the basement there are thousands of books and other artworks that are not on display.

Unfortunately, we humans are an incredibly creative species. It’s a shame really.

We have created more than can ever be seen.

Whenever I am here, I think of a friend of mine in Australia.

He is mad about books. He even has his own bookstore.

Over the years he has consumed more books, and lived in more alternate worlds, than I will ever have the honour of experiencing. This would be the place for him.

It is grand and inspiring.

Unfortunately it is more geared towards research than fiction.

The floor is tiled mosaic and somehow reminds me of Aboriginal dot paintings. I think it’s the serpentine design. There is much more than just books to look at.

Maybe I’m writing this for him. He would certainly be someone who would sit and bathe in it all.

Someone above me walked in talking loudly and was immediately shushed.

Funny, they weren’t shushed by the librarian, but by another onlooker.

People reading and writing do demand respect.

It’s a strange phenomenon really, It makes me feel once again that I have made the right choice. I am doing an honourable thing.

I am doing the thing I always should have done. I am writing.

Note to self: Ok, fine that you know all that. Now get back to work and write something worth reading.

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Have you found a great place to read or write?

 

Leave a comment below or join the mailing list and let me know.

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