Idleness does not cause disease primarily and in itself, but by means of excess. For parts of the body characterized by idleness become weaker and less robust, as each excess comes about due to this idleness. Moreover, an ill-balanced motion does not make the power stronger, but it does empty out the excess liquids which have been collected. For it is quite clear that if there is a slight over-fullness with respect to this abundance of liquids, or a well-balanced motion takes place, a man becomes worn out gently through this, but does not become feverish.
—Galen, ‘On Hippocrates’ On the Nature of Man’, 115 (trans. W.J. Lewis)
One of the things I missed most in the last year was having a simple method for getting rid of books. The personal library is not a static thing – it lives and grows and shrinks and changes according to taste and circumstance. Letting books go is a part of that; it is a way, yes, to acknowledge the shifting boundaries of one’s own character, but also to maintain a connection with one’s surroundings: there are only so many piles of books a home can hold before it’s difficult to make one’s morning coffee or get out the front door. My preferred routes for deaccessioning – selling them to local bookstores, donating them to the county library (or handing them off to friends) – have not been accessible, so the stack of books in need of a new home has slowly grown to nearly unmanageable proportions. Rather than leading to a diminution in the acquisition of books, this blockage led to an increase, as the household (or my individual) need for a particular quantity of book-shaped motion through the house sought an outlet, perversely, by drawing in more, because no books were moving in any other direction. Thankfully, small local free libraries have blossomed throughout the neighborhood, and I have been able to drop off a volume or two here and there; it’s not quite the same thing, but it’s a start.