it's spitting rain here in toronto and i just came back from the latest harry potter movie. hearing people complaining about the movie was hilarious: well people, that's why books can be such an entertaining medium- everyone gets to make their own little world full of sensuous clues pulled off from the simple black-on-white pages.
really. what is a book? in the most conventional physical sense, it's pieces of paper usually binded with glue (well some old school books have been properly stitched), with covers (either hard binding or paperbinding), and pages and texts in usual black ink (sometimes you see coloured ones, especially in case of picture books). ya, i know. it's simple isnt it. we all see it and we all know exactly what it is. but do we?
some books hold more magic than its cover, and some books are just outright confusing. some are full of facts and some are full of narratives and ideas. fiction. nonfiction. poetry. prose. essays. stream of consciousness. you name it, it's been printed/bound/sold/given under the simple noun 'book.'
monkey was a 1. fat kid who was unfortunate with triple bad luck of 2. being ahead of class and 3. possessing absolutely no sense of spatial intelligence. i was the last kid to be picked in gym classes. for years! till now, i strongly dislike team sports. still worried about being picked last i suppose. which meant lots of time were spent on reading books. or scribbling.
and i honestly have not finished the potter series. i remember when the last of the series was released, i was studying piano with prof. jacques rouvier of paris conservatoire in orford, quebec. you had to take the once-in-an-hour bus to get to a 'downtown' to get anything, including the new potter book. and people went and bought them. then was glued to the book. i had much fun going around randomly picking up a character and announcing their death to random readers. nothing couldve pissed them off more at that point, hahaha.
come on. it's just a book. and i still dont really know who dies at the end. if i remember correctly, i think it is one of the weasley twins. well, it doesnt really matter does it. all it matters is that that series have brought back the interest for such an ancient medium called 'book' to the new and old generations. people suddenly realized reading, though it seems passive from the outside, could be a very rich activities, full of incentives, ideas, clues and experiences.
and the best thing is that one gets to build one's own very world based on those books. and the books with fantastic illustrations always add another layer of imagination and riches to the readers- i am still a big sucker for children's section in any book store and maurice sendak is one of my personal heroes. (in case it seems familiar, she is the lady who wrote/illustrated where the wild things are). kipling's just so stories. tenniel's illustration in alice in wonderland is another great example. and also some edition of candide with alan odle's illustration is fab. ooh and who could ever forget oscar wilde's salome, richly graced with aubrey beardsley. dont forget curious george or winnie the pooh either. the list can go on and on.
ooh sideways already. anyhows. it was interesting to think about book as a medium of inspiration/aspiration. the latest book i picked up was godel, escher, bach: the eternal golden braid by douglas hofstadter. this book has been crossing my path several times so far, but it always have slipped through my fingers. much like playing frogger. missing the car traffics both ways. and then, squashed!
i finally gave up and picked up a copy and even from the very starting page i am completely amused and tickled curious. linking math, arts and logic is one of the oldest combination for mental exercises, i know. but once you add word pun (more pun! i cant even think about what kind of human mind processes are required to translate such things. like looking at the idea of translating jabberwocky. gawd.), all the sudden, each pages become such a dense material, monkey has no choice but to take each bite with absolute conviction and patience (how could i follow the logic of these mental math games unless i try? i was filling out one of the early exercises concerning formal systems-axioms-treaties, which filled up a page with all sorts of dashes and p-q, much to the next person's amusement at a stationary bicycle at the ymca. ha ha ha) ( i wonder if any of them will ever talk to me after such 'crazy' looking activity).
and i think this book will be a long time enjoyment coming. there is no way i would be able to understand everything from the book in one go, nor i could do a speedreading with such materials. all the sudden, reading becomes not a chore but a truly enjoyable activity! who would ve thought!
i remember looking at some random survey time to time, asking to grade what was the truly the greatest human invention. i cant say for certain, but if i were to restrict the question, such as : what would be the predominant human invention that you use on daily basis and absolutely cannot do without? then i would pick 'book printing/binding' without hesitation.
the beauty of it is that it (the enjoyment, amusement, enlightenment, everything inbetween) only becomes available when one is active in the reading process. i couldnt care less if i am just going through these black stains on white pages as phonetic code. it's when you start to contextualize and cross mapping between different planes of ideas and realities that things become dynamic and alive! voila, here comes monkey's version of: (whatever the book of the obsession is)!
anyways. stating the obvious, i must hit the basket as i have a funeral mass to attend to, and i could muster every ounce of courage and sleep as it's going to be a hard one (yes, it is the one of the man who suddenly collapsed and passed away last wk). at least i will have the luxury to catch up with my very own GBE. and at least i know that there are others who have been exposed to this beautiful book, including mr. salamander, who i would be able to share and add even more layers of riches. i am so lucky.
okay. off to basket. with an excitement of knowing that there's always more beauty than one can possibly understand at one given point. and that there's always at least a hint of beauty in some grimy parts of life as well. if not, why/what to live for?