Tuesday, February 24, 2009

On Books

I have an unnaturally strong attachment to books.

To me, they are the things, aside from photographs, that if your house were burning, you might run back and try to save. There may be a million copies of 'Song of Solomon' but that is the one that made me shiver. That copy of 'Sula', with its "Circles and circles of sorrow" changed how I thought, how I feel, how I am. Who knew? Who knew there was a word for what I felt, and that someone else had taken those feelings, those exact same feelings, and put them more exquisitely than I could have fathomed... Until I read it.

And then I knew.

I knew those feelings. That sorrow. That spiral. That prayer/poem/hymn/cry.

They are things that can evoke in us spiritual responses. Feeling that touch us so deeply that we maybe sometimes make bad decisions.

To hold on to sentences. Phrases. Paragraphs. As objects on a page. As pages in a book. As a book that we have held. As a thing, we have touched, that has touched us.

Therein lies the mystery of books, of reading and of language.

We have created this system of symbols that mean our words. Our words are symbols themselves. We take collections of lines, put them together, and through the glorious invention of writing, you are reading this. You know what I wanted to tell you. You know. Because these symbols, these lines, mean something to us.

So these things on my shelves, these cumbersome, space-sucking books... these worlds, these ideas, these revelations... I will have to pare down. I don't live in a proper house, so I have just the few shelves I own now, and the space I might use to add a new one is very small. I am New-York-City-Maxed-Out.

Bummer.

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