On Mathoms: a Manifesto (Almost)

I should get rid of my old CDs.  There is no real reason to keep them.  Maybe a few of the local bands who never made it big that signed copies would be an exception, but I have kept them all, along with every program from every play that I have ever seen.  There is no real sense to this. I have seen a lot of plays.  I have to make a concerted effort to not save stubs from movie tickets, although I do find them piling up in places.

Long ago I wrote (luckily I don’t save everything that I have ever written, but I did save this):

I first encountered the word ‘mathom’ twenty-one years ago when I was reading The Lord of the Rings. Hobbits, like both Dragons and New Yorkers, are natural hoarders. And, when a healthy amount of material possessions becomes burdensome, some of the more interesting things are sent to a museum run by the Mayor: “The Mathom-house it was called; for anything that Hobbits had no immediate use for, but were unwilling to throw away, they called a mathom. Their dwellings were apt to become rather crowded with mathoms….” I later found out that ‘mathom’ meant ‘treasure’ in Old English. And, indeed in Beowulf, the dragon’s hoard is filled with many a mþum.

It was an introduction to an old blog. I thought at the time that the mathoms I kept were only in my mind, but, it turns out that when I moved a few months later I had more than I realized in boxes.

I make no pretense that the mathoms I put here will be worthy for a dragon’s hoard, merely that they will be worthy of your consideration. I only hope, that by writing them down, I can be done with these pesky notions so that they stop cluttering my mind and clutter yours instead.

I didn’t mean it at the time but I think that this notion sums up all writing, or at least all of the writing that I do.  The ideas need to be let out one way or another, and they have to be let out properly.

I told an idea to a friend years ago for a story I wanted to write and he told me it was cliché, and there was no more damning word to me then than ‘cliché.’  I would even have preferred ‘bad.’ I can’t recall exactly what the idea was but I doubt it was cliché, or even bad.  I do know that I went about it in the wrong manner.  Nobody wants to hear story ideas, although a few may want to read them once they are finished.

I can’t speak for anyone else but for me the ideas have to come out or they become distracting.

Tags: The Mathom-House at Michel Delving,


More Than Coasters (My Old CDs Part I)

First Published on my Old Blog on October 7th, 2015

When I was young I had the sense that I was unusual; however, it wasn’t till this summer when I ripped my old CDs that I realized that I was indeed a Proper Weirdo. I didn’t want to get rid of them till they were saved, even though I didn’t listen to them very much. An album on a disc drive is as good as one on a flat disc. Books in a digital format are sad little ghosts — the smell and tactile joy are part of the experience — but the CDs were the same if ripped or not.

It was also strange to have these things around the house that at one time seemed so cutting-edge and promising but now seemed so old-fashioned and cumbersome. My copy of the White Album had yellowed.

But more on my weirdness –. I had moved many times since my last full album buying days at the turn-of-the-century and the CDs, which I rarely listened to were getting to be a burden. It would be easy enough to dispose of them and not lose any music, and I always had to be at the ready.  My recurrent case of Beatlemania could break out at anytime and I didn’t want to lose anything  already acquired.

I turned out be a little surprised by what I had, even if I remembered almost everything well once I saw it. I had forgotten the strange blues obsession of my teenage years — I had piles of John Lee Hooker and B.B. King. What kind of teenager listens to that? or to the folk music — the Kingston Trio and Peter Paul and Mary? Shouldn’t I have been listening to Metallica and Soundgarden? I did and I was. I never had a lot of CDs but what I had was diverse.

I have a big chunk of the Sinatra catalog and plenty of Billie Holiday. Singers I liked at twenty and that I’ve continued listen to and to love. There is a lot of Baroque music — Monteverdi, Bach, and Purcell from my mid-20’s. I took advantage of a local radio station switching formats to buy quite a bit of it. My liking of that music was instinctive. I don’t have a great ear for sophisticated music and I think there are still things on those discs that I don’t get. Hopefully, one day I shall comprehend the magic of the fugue.

Book buying was a pathological disease for me in my 20’s but music never was, maybe because the cost was prohibitively expensive, maybe because buying music seemed more consumeristic than scholarly. I don’t know. Once ripped my CDs only occupied a tiny fraction of my external hard drive. Yet, they still take up about two square feet of space on the floor of my bedroom.

What I can I do with these outdated mathoms? Will the Mathom-House at Michel Delving take them? Would they be a valued cultural artifact to a distant descendant? I can talk to the Mayor, but I have a feeling I will continue carrying them about till someone else is inconvenienced enough by them to trash them, or till they fade on their own and are blank.

Tags: Proper Weirdos,  The Blues, Books, Beatlemania, Mathoms, The Mathom-House at Michel Delving