Since my bike injury last year, I've had a devil of a time sitting at my desk to type. Something about the angle at which I have to bend my knee makes my ankle and foot swell uncomfortably. As a result, I took to using the laptop on a long, thin folding table. At first I did this in the front room. But that seemed too much like the colonization of leisure space for work. So I reconfigured my home office, cramped as it, to accommodate the table. Now I work primarily on the laptop, but access the desktop, which I use for my iTunes library, photo archive and scanning-related tasks, by swiveling and rolling my chair forward two feet.
It's a remarkably productive set-up. I only wish I'd thought of it sooner. The most interesting thing about the arrangement is that the practical value of being able to access both computers I use is supplemented by an unanticipated advantage. Before, when I would look up from the screen to rest my eyes and ponder, I'd see either a wall or a window. Now, though, when I life my eyes from the laptop I see this view:
Apparently, I respond as powerfully to positive distractions as negative ones. Scanning the books on these shelves sharpens my reflections, prodding me to conceive of what I'm writing in relation to these weighty tomes. And the sight of these shelves in proximity to each other also improves my thinking about the relationship between the categories they delimit. Mentally making the passage between French post-structuralism, on the left, and psychoanalysis, on the right, via the "bridge" of my stuffed Nietzsche's eyebows -- thank you again, Steven and Robin! -- or remarking the visual symmetry demonstrated by Charles Taylor's Sources of the Self, on the left, and Frederic Jameson's Postmodernism; or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, on the right, adds a body to my musings that would be lacking if I didn't have the spatial aid of this spectacle confronting me all day.