i admit to being a bibliophile as you might have gathered from my post about mykea. although i get most of my daily intake of text online, i appreciate a rattling journal, the smooth surface of a newspaper and, most of all, the weight of a proper book in my hand.
i do not distinguish between hard and softcovers, but enjoy both equally; i love the texture and the heaviness of an artfully covered and bound piece of literature, but embrace the way soft, cheap copies collect the signature markings of their handlers. i have a habit of folding pages, i leave unfinished books contents spread out on tabletops, sometimes i scribble notes in the margins. my books are allowed to live and change, they're not collected for preservation.
just like people, even the most intricate and beautiful cover loses its shine if the contents prove to be insignificant. moreover, the deepest offense to my feelings of comradeship is when i share a book i believe a friend would like and they end up not appreciating it. it shakes my fundaments. i actually find it harder to understand than when i introduce two people i love and they end up not meshing...
i lend my favorite books to friends and never learn that they might be forever gone. when i do not get them back, i miss them dearly.
one of my treasures is a book that requires a room to read. not exactly the kind virginia woolf suggested, but close: a physical space where the beauty of the artifact can be spread out and concentrated on. because it requires a space of clarity.
it is an object of longing, and it embraces both the abstract notions of digging deep and the physical requirements a journey into human understanding of loss might take. it is the opposite, the antithesis of a virtual reading device and very much an object to move, touch and fondle.
i am talking about my copy of anne carson's nox. the book is her obituary, letter, poem, scrapbook and scholarly immersion for and into the brother she lost touch with because of his nomadic and elusive lifestyle.
as everyone who has lost a loved one knows, you are never completely familiar with someone when they live even if you're close. death opens closed boxes – whether real or imaginary – and the perspective towards a person changes drastically after death. the enigma of a person becomes more apparent when they cease to exist, and, thus, we approach those deceased differently from those who are still among us.
moving with and through the book you learn to appreciate the beauty of it, the careful study of a latin poem that while being processed like an academic work of translation, celebrates the love between siblings and the one between those living and those already gone.
a beautiful read, both content and assemblage, it is a work that proves to me that books made from pulp are far from ready to disappear.