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I Must Not Think Bad ThoughtsDrive-by Essays on American Dread, American Dreams$
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Mark Dery

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816677733

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816677733.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MINNESOTA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.minnesota.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MNSO for personal use.date: 03 June 2020

Gray Matter

Gray Matter

The Obscure Pleasures of Medical Libraries

Chapter:
(p.212) Gray Matter
Source:
I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
Author(s):

Mark Dery

Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
DOI:10.5749/minnesota/9780816677733.003.0026

This chapter describes medical libraries and their collection of what science fiction writer J. G. Ballard calls “invisible literature,” his term for medical textbooks, scientific journals, technical manuals, and other gray matter. At the New York Academy of Medicine Library, one can find books on forensic pathology and morbid anatomy, wax models of skin diseases, or the occult origins of kidney stones; books worth perusing for their titles alone, for their homiletic wisdom, or for their droll wit. Although it comprises a veritable galaxy in the universe of print media, invisible literature is nowhere to be found in general-interest bookstores and is never reviewed in mainstream book pages. According to Ballard, such publications can be read as expressions of the unconscious of our age. Intentionally or not, the invisible literature written by psychologists, pathologists, and others who specialize in the deviant mind or the monstrous body beckons us toward a psychogeography unimagined by most novelists.

Keywords:   medical libraries, J. G. Ballard, invisible literature, medical textbooks, scientific journals, technical manuals, New York Academy of Medicine Library, forensic pathology, psychogeography, novelists

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