I love books.
that's no glib exclamation. I mean love.
Books have taken me closer to truth and reality, and filled me more deeply than any other form of art, any of man's many medias. Okay, more specifically, it's the printed pages.
I love printing.
that's why setting up network printers can be so frustrating. It seems like it should be so easy make it so, but rarely is, not like books which literally fly
into place, I'll tell you a story about books.
I was in my mid-twenties, and somehow with a building contract sixty miles over a frozen, trecherous hill and back and taking way more days off than I could honstly ascribe to my battered automobile. Really I'd had enough of the work, just kinda fell into it needing cash. This day I was wasn't working. I'd invited a couple of friends over for a Jam, a common occurence at the time, and was tuning my guitar when the thought struck me - Shit! I got Nada in the house! Not even a beer! I was also flat broke. - in less than a minute the solution arrived:
RRRRRRRRinggggg: Snow see.. no trains.. if it wouldn't be too much trouble.. friend of mine, says she'll give you a tenner if you- I accepted this perfectly timed offer instantly, and set off on the short drive to Aberdeen, ferrying this girl I'd never met to An Imprtant Meeting. And got there with an improbable ten minutes to spare, too. Battered that old car may have been, but it could nip on when required, of course my driving style helped. Anyway, the real "coincedence" occured on the drive home..
The last five hundred yards, I pass this outdoor stall, charity thing. "They must be mad", was my first thought, "it's effin Baltic!". But still, a few folks had gathered round already, buzzing and rummaging the wares as people do. I pulled my Nova into the town square, like a guided missile, that exhilerating pull
that says here is the book you asked for
hauling me relentless. In shorts and T-shirt, I skidded to the stall, left hand table, back left, Bingo!
I guess I had better tell you about the book itself. You may know of it. I'd been searching for a copy for some months without much success. Its name had been hitting me for a couple of years, and those krishna guys see me and literally run at me with books, it was advertised in them all, but never offered. Sure, I could have ordered it somehow, even settled with a different translation, but once an image, especially a nice colour glossy one, fixes in the mind like that, it's only a question of time before The Universe Provides. I'm fairly patient.
And there it was, in pristine unruffled hardback; The Bhagavad-Gita 'as-it-is'. Fifty pence. I thoughtlessly gave the woman a pound and dashed off, eager to taste the delights within. It would be a couple of hours before the guitars and amps arrived. I could have a nibble.
So I got myself together, prepared an herbal tea, cleared my mind of its extranea, shook that morning's spliff from my brain, breathed steady and deep, and flipped open the first page.
And slammed the cover back instantly. WTF! Like big "NO!" except without the audio. I tried it again, randomly flipping the book open somewhere in the middle. Again; No. Damn! Puzzled, I grudgingly accepted that while this may have been the perfect day to find
the book, it wasn't, for reasons unmeknown at the time, the perfect day to read
it. That would be a later day. I put the book away in my bookshelf, and that
is where the story really
Let me tell you about books, as I see them. The words are only a part of the story. Even when all the intullectual layers have been stripped, There's still more, more possibilities. As a small child I would experiment with books, trying to discover different ways to get the juice out of them. I learned that sometimes, with certain books, just having them about has an effect, almost as if the data were seeping into my consciousness somehow, avoiding the potential minefield that is reading and moreover understanding
the written word.
Everything could be coincedence. And while you and you have a perfect right to see and believe that particular version of reality, I've never had much truck with coincedence, athough it does seem a reasonable approach for folks unaware of any deeper significance in the timing of events, those meaningfulness synchronicities. It will do until they know better, I guess.
Sure, I could have just been travelling along those lines of thought, perhaps dust-jackets, when they exist, are catalysts to avenues of unconscious research, or maybe I sleep-read; but there comes a time, after maybe two or three dozen books like this, when you realise that improbable as it may seem, when the times comes to actually read
the thing, you already know this book.
More often than not, the books I'm drawn to are not so much revelational, but affirmations of truths known, but not realised. Of course a tomb like the Gita is a sure-fire winner for this kind of result. There's a shit-load of books will do it, at the right time and place. And I guess, if you spent enough cash, and bought enough books, you could read that kind of stuff all day long, like a drip, and that might have an effect too. But there is a more reliable method of getting the information you really
need, so long as you can accept that, more often than not, books find you.
What we do with them after that is up to us. But if all there is to books is starting at the first word and working your way religiously to the last - not that that isn't a joyous thing, and the cause of a fair few memorable sunrise espresso's - then I'll eat my own book-case!
First noble truth: Books get tired. Friend of mine, who I will call Jill, found herself raking about for a CD in one of my old media stacks/clutters and seemed to zero straight in on "Light on The Path", an incredible wee volume which I occasionally swell to recant how it darted its way to me in less than seven days of my learning of its existance. Never again have I heard its name, let alone found it in a Saturday morning charity stall I just "happened" to be passing.
"Let me print you a copy", I said, "it seems to want to find you". I printed it out (I OCR'd the well-out-of-copyright text almost as soon as I'd read it), chopped it up, stapled it, and sent her on her way. "En-Joy!" I cheered, splitting the sylables wide apart. That she did, and then some. Within a fortnight she returns with the wee book, "Something's wrong". "What?" "it's all swirly now, just looking at it makes me all confused. It was so TRUE before, SPOT-ON!". She was clearly anxious about the whole thing, went on to describe other related maladies.
"You've worn it out", I said, and I took the booklet, now rather tattered and smudged, and tore it cleanly in half. Sadly I didn't have a camera about me to capture her expression at that point.
"I'll print you another one", I tossed off and ranged through to the workshop to do just that. Jill burst into tears. I didn't go there with her on this occasion.
"This time don't carry it around with you so much! And no reading it on the Bus!", I shouted through while I set the printer in motion. She had been close you see, close to figuring something out. Light on The Path, in its own sweet magical way had been drawing her towards an understanding of one simple fundamental truth about herself.. Jill en-joys confusion.
"You okay?" I whispered, peering round the doorway.
"heh, yeah, sorry, seems silly really..."
"Ahh no worries, this'll help, you'll see"
This time I printed part one only, leaving the second half (which really isn't for beginners anyway) completely blank. I typed in its place "I have removed the source of the confusion, but you'll find another".
Printing is magical. Ask anyone who's ever printed anything ever. Ask them about the first time they watched their words come hurtling out of the machine like so much instant art. Words are magic, yes, gateways to other worlds, an infinitely compressable medium, thought squeezed into wee strings of symbols, unsqueezing in YOUR mind.
Yes I didn't say the magic was entirely
in the words, the printing, the books; it's in you, of course. isn't it incredible that while folks recognise that with say, a science text, or even a spell-book, the user's
input is essential, vital; yet these same folks believe that certain "Hallowed", "Holy" books, printed just like Mark Twain or Judy Collins, can manage to perform these feats all by themselves, "do magic" on you, "imbue wisdom" or whatever. Just Read-and-Go!
Information is a commodity, sure, but don't believe small ads for "Knowledge", or even big ads.
So I don't order books, or read book catalogues, or even visit bookshops. I simply require information, and let smarter particles work out the titles. Sometimes it's a friend - like when a school-mate I hadn't seen in almost ten years dives into the shop I'm working and thrusts Neoromancer in my hand, nods and leaves; or perhaps a chance meeting - like when I lifted up that deep blue curtain and The Book of Rings fell out ("Madame, it may well be 'not for sale yet', but steal it or buy it, I'm walking out with this book"); or even through another book - like when I read those explicit words "Seek out a work entitled 'Light on The Path'". You can guess I follow my instincts a lot.
And that's only a fraction of what I could spout about books. Just as well; I decided fairly early on in this blog that I would do two things. One; not go to deeply into the potential capabilities of books, just offer tasters (in other words, try not to get too carried away); and Two; not edit the blog. The first was easy, but the second will be a real challenge. Generally a blog can sit on my local server for three days before it "goes live", being tweaked, teased, and coaxed into shape, all the while attempting to retain its whole its mathimatical totality in my mind, trying to catch myself out, trying to catch you out. It can take a lot of editing to get it where I wanted it to go. Tonight I'm not going to bother with that. I haven't even used my funky preview function. I just wanted to yap about books.
But rather than end with a sermon on the reliability of Panther (and corzblog
;o), I'm gonna leave you with a poem wrote about a zillion years ago, and with kids in mind. Having said that, it's served me pretty well, and I'm a fully grown adult. Yeah right.
A book can be any number of things,
a tool, for sure, for trapped thinkings.
or an ornament even -
they look splendid in a crowd.
It serves as a step for things well raised,
no disrespect, versatility is praised,
and a thin one fairly steadies
a wobbly table.
They're a great escape, or at least a door,
and make excellent pot-stands stacked on the floor.
Indeed, I imagine, there is no end
of uses for a book.
Taken from "Things your Father should have told you, but probably didn't"