Saturday, May 29, 2004


A neighborhood man and his wife who have been long time nude yoga enthusiasts finally fulfilled their dream: they have self published a thick, big instructional book of doing yoga in the buff. They also thoughtfully donated a copy to the branch. When my manager pointed at the gift book on his desk and warned me about what it was, I was overwhelmed with this horrible compulsion to walk over there, open it, and look inside. Like Bluebeard's wife, who, eaten up with a terrible curiosity, could not stop herself from opening the forbidden door, I was powerless myself to resist opening the book of neighborhood naked yoga.

Just as I feared, the book is practically all photographs and employs many of the neighborhood's Bohemian/Beatnik residents, many of whom are patrons, as wrinkly but surprisingly flexible models. Father Time and years of hard living have taken their toll on their bodies, and I wish I could scrub my brain of the images that still reverberate: the winking orifices, the droopy yanni  and yogini , the shocks of hair in unexpected places, the intense look of the models staring back out at me from the book's pages, the entire last section devoted to partner yoga. I don't think it's ever safe for me to do hallucinogens or run a high fever for fear that these images will reappear to haunt me while I'm in a vulnerable psychological state. It's bad enough that I have to see these people in the neighborhood, some even on a professional basis. I would have rather have been forced to pore over a book of battle wounds or autopsies or police crime scenes. Donations like these underscore the need for a solid, detailed collection development policy to fall back on. For community relations, my manager accepted the donation, and put it out in the general collection, where it will probably mercifully and immediately be stolen.

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