Secondhand Scribbles

The weather in New York today was finally decent enough for going out for a walk over lunch. And once again, sidewalk booksellers beckoned, with many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.

One book I picked up — “The London Venture”, a 1920 memoir by one Michael Arlen — looked both too poorly preserved, and too dull, to merit purchase. But in flipping through it at random, I was intrigued by the snappy rejoinders someone had penciled in on various pages. There was an intimacy to these remarks that made me wonder if it was just possible that the reader had personally known the author.

"And so say I"

“And so say I”


"And you'll probably end just like Phyllis"

“And you’ll probably end just like Phyllis”

For two dollars, these scribbles were simply too amusing not to take into captivity. And yes, this is a perfect example of what all the various op-ed columnists have been talking about in the last few years as they mourn the passing of the physical book. I’m not too heartbroken about losing out on such scribbles myself, though, since I tend to prefer my books in mint condition, a bad habit I got from my comic book collecting days…

I forebore from buying the specimens shown below, however. I found them a few feet apart, but on the same shelf-cart. They appeared to be related: the Aquarian Gospel is a relic of some kind of early 20th-century Christian cult, and the Esoteric pamphlet mentioned both the Aquarian Gospel and Madame Blavatsky on its first page.

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Here’s the first page of the pamphlet:

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See you at the next Hierarchical conclave!

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