"If you are a certain kind of person, there is a unique form of pleasure to be obtained in an archive. With an important writer’s notes—or, even better, journals—there is a sense of ceremonious trespassing involved in having a specialist present you, the researcher, with a revered figure’s highly personal, and often rather trivial, belongings. The special collections room becomes an equalizing space where we can ogle at the humdrum remains of those we esteem the most; by looking through their assorted paperwork—through their receipts, to-do lists and preserved desk detritus—they become somewhat less elevated and more earthly. This is even truer in the case of the three-dimensional realia: due to the combinations of death, achievement, fame, and rarity, the worn and used objects of everyday life are eventually deemed research-worthy...."
Extract from Mysterious Skin: The Realia of William Gaddis by Matthew Erickson in The Paris Review