Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Soul of a Leech and Library Geeks

I have five bookshelves at home that are filled with all of my books, in no particular order. I have contemplated making them alphabetical, but it takes too much time and then there was the idea to put books together that had similar plots, yet it seemed a bit too tedious a task to sit and organize them all. Apparently, organizing titles is just the tip of the iceberg if you are a member of It's the booknerd's dream. The idea of tagging your books or going beyond alphabetizing your collection really screams to me, "I have no life!" Jessa Crispin has written about her brief experience trying to catalog her titles and the mad competition that exists in organizing and cataloging your titles over at The Book Standard. And within your collection let's hope Mary Roach's new novel, Spook, will be a part of it. Mary Roach talks with the fine folks at The Book Standard about how serious the people are who deal with mediums and ultimately weighing souls, whether they be leeches or something bigger:

TBS: Spook is a very funny book. Did any of the researchers and scientists you were interviewing have a sense of humor about what they were doing?
MR: They take it pretty seriously. They’re not a yuk-it-up bunch.
TBS: But then didn’t you have trouble keeping a straight face at times—for example, when you were talking to the scientist who is weighing the souls of leeches?
MR: No, because they approach it pretty seriously. In the case of the leech-weigher, I was scrambling so much with the quantum mechanics he was throwing at me that there wasn’t any room for a giggle. I have, believe it or not, a lot of respect for these folks because they do something that gets a lot of eye-rolling and also because they are risking their academic reputations.
TBS: Why do you think people try to prove the existence of the soul with such fervor?
MR: The heyday of this stuff was right after World War One, when just about every family had lost sons. Plus that era came right on the heels of the wireless telegraph, the telephone and electricity, which all seemed like magic. I think that when asked to accept [those devices] as science, it wasn’t much of a leap to think that a voice from the beyond could be channeled through a medium. I think people said, “Heck, if they can send a wireless message from here to Spokane, why wouldn’t that be possible.”

Now I'm curious--is it good to have your soul be heavy or lighter in mass and what does it mean? I guess I'm thinking it's all relative depending on your species. But then, I'm no expert. I'll leave that to the scientists and, well . . . Mary Roach.

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