Shopenhauer once intimated that we love to buy books because we believe we`re buying the time to read them.
Ah yes, the ambition to write feels no less noble than the urge to read, but then, there are many kinds of satisfaction. I feel that I would find greater satisfaction in writing a book for once rather than reading one. I have bought many a book, and buying a book presents an interesting moment. We purchase a book with the assumption that, based upon the merit of a brief perusal, said book will satisfy our expectations. By the time we make it through the checkout our expectations have become faith, and that faith becomes a very substantial hope that the time spent reading that book will have made the time spent looking for it well spent. As it is in almost all facets of life, the satisfaction of well spent time is the most satisfying of all, for it echoes in the great halls of our souls the vibration of satisfied sighs.
However, the satisfaction of writing a book seems almost bittersweet. For whom would we write for? Then again, for whom do we really read for? After one reaches a certain level of satisfaction from the reading of books writ by others, one begins to dimly envision the perfect book for them, but who can write for oneself but oneself? The bittersweet fact is that we cannot find the perfect book for us, because there is nobody like us that can write it for us, and yet we are all inescapably the same, like so many La Salle’s in search of the Fountain of Youth. To find the book with the perfect blend of mystery, excitement, emotion, toil and pain, like unique foggy wisps of the perfect eluding us amid the ethereal swamps of a new world, like the gypsy chord that progresses forever, the poetic curse that renders the clouds to become unborn of rain, and the exotic face that greets us upon every horizon...and yet is only the manifestation of our own commonality, looking into the eyes of another mundane world.
And so, here we find ourselves, you, somewhere in the future reading these very words, and I, somewhere in the past writing those same words which, to me, seem to hold a strangely miraculous potential; not a perfect potential, but still a potential. The potential to affect and instigate those cute and various intimate human reactions, like a frown, a smile, or those little noises one makes at oneself when one is alone and thinking. Sometimes a burst of laughter erupts and dies into a chuckle, sometimes the soul leaks from our moving eye, sometimes a sardonic grin comes upon the scene with sadistic intent...yes, we can always count on that precious choice, the choice to stay up well past our bedtime, curled around a mental motion picture drawn from the words of our culture that is so familiar and close to our mind that we cannot lose a single second of well-earned insight into the story that we command with our eyes and hands.
The great thing about reading a book is that we can read it as slow as we want and yet the quality remains intact. The mind is where the timeless moments are made.
There is a mysterious love for books. I don’t know about you but I really like to smell them. Every book has a different perfume.
I think also there is a correlation between books and people. It takes time reading them and knowing them, seeking out those intimate intellectual, emotional, and psychological moments hidden between the breathless and still fabric of the cover, an interior that comes alive under the tender pressures of the searching eye, like an artist visualizing a landscape upon the canvas of hope and trust, like a reader touching a book with his or her imagination which is as unique as the finger prints left upon it’s pages, and from those pages, the reciprocating act of intimacy occurs! A memory is born from mental experiences molded with words, understood in thought.
Reading a good book in a timeless moment is like a relationship without the headaches! Oh that we were all books! But we are all ever-changing entities, and our stories know no end. Apparently this is why we are always in search of our perfect book. But I wouldn’t have it any other way because the future is what keeps us interested in the present. It is the expectation, the energy, the sap, the adrenalin, and the water that maintains the engines of our nature.
But concerning books in general, don’t we just love the childish hope that some occult and esoteric trinket will fall from between the pages to land upon the floor with a glint, a promising ring, a dimensional key to another world allowing us to experience via our imagination the blue horizons of unreachable landscapes? We even love to hold them, except of course, when we are standing in line at the library.
Doesn’t just a little childish giddiness come over us when we have discovered a promising title? We grab a pile of pillows, root out a little spot in the back of our bedroom closet, push aside the silent sentinels of our secret haven languidly draped upon the hangers, usher in a mug of hot chocolate and nestle in for another journey of a thousand miles that thankfully doesn’t start with a leaky hose and a broken fan belt, because closets have no mechanical parts, except maybe the doors. And what of those notes that someone else has scribbled in the margins? Just a rare opportunity to read the demented minds of the forgetful without them knowing, something even superman can’t do!
Even if we don’t have the time to read books, we still like to fill up austere ebony cases with books embossed with letters of dark and gold, standing out like frozen flame on faded canvas, intriguing and mysterious, hinting to the occasional guest that an artist or a great scholar lives here. Ah yes! Just a little conceit exists when it comes to books, whether it is in the owning of them, the writing of them, or even in the reading of them. Don’t we all love to be caught reading something auspicious?
But a title is only as good as you make it, and it pretty much holds no further virtue in it’s integrity unless discovered, for integrity exists not within the book, but without in the eyes of the reader. Only dignity is that dark gem which exists within the sole entity and is the foundation upon which integrity is built, but that’s another topic for another time.
The degree of conceit that must exist to make one think, nay hope, that the world will want to read ones renderings is staggering, and I half expect to reel from the shock of stepping on a step that isn’t there. Furthermore, who the heck would want to be caught reading this?
Not to contradict the insight of that sage who phrased his thoughts very carefully in that profound proverb "A picture is worth a thousand words," but I must quote yet another sage who conversely said, "A word is worth a thousand pictures." The novelist Joseph Conrad also once said "One must not put his trust in the right argument, but in the right word."
The true artist should look beyond the step that may or may not be there and gaze beyond upon that dark impenetrable canvas of mystery and dreams, and create his imagination upon that substantial void, where he or she has all the room in the world to portray ones heart. And if he or she stumbles, at least it won’t be an issue of self-consciousness, for their motive will be without shame. Yes, I will admit a little conceit is there, but not shame, and no apology. It seems the oftener I observe, that it is the true artists who only create for their own satisfaction. Public admiration is just a bonus. Ever notice that the truly great artists of yesteryear didn’t have an identity problem? Yes, maybe they were a little conceited, but at least they knew who they were and what they wanted in life and were confident in that, and in their artistic abilities. They made no apologies for them, even though they may have been "different,” just as we make no apologies for being "human."
As far as apologies are concerned, when I say that the great artists of yesterday didn’t have an identity problem and made no apology for being just a little conceited in their own creative abilities, (and rightly so) I never once said and so much as I can tell have not implied that I am some great artist. So! With that qualifying statement, I am allowed to make apologies, even for making apologies.