Saturday, 31 July 2010

METALLICA: “Turn The Page”

He lies on his back, staring at the ceiling. The air in the room is heavy, yet invisible as weight generally is. The blinds darken the room; the summer sun plays outside. He’ll be dozing off soon.

There’s a book on the night table, with a bookmark keeping two seemingly random pages apart. It divides the pages before and after in two plots of land, like a flag planted by the reader to mark the border of the grounds he has conquered already. But anything can happen outside the territory that lies between the front and back cover. A book has no will. The reader has all power. He can resume a story at any time convenient to him. He can let the characters wait, like a guest coming late on purpose to underline his own importance. The reader can chose to abort his reading, and forever remain ignorant about the rest of the story. The plot has unfolded anyway. It does not need the reader’s help to exist. A book can remain unread forever, for many books are purchased impulsively, by people who will never find the time to read them. Books collect dust on bookshelves, better than any vacuum cleaner ever can. They may gradually turn yellow, like a piece of laundry that hung in the sun for all too many times. The reader can pass the book to a friend, and share what he has read, for whatever reason that may be. The book can become a gift, for the giver to give and the receiver to receive. Books are lent to acquaintances and never returned to the original owner. The results of statistical research about this phenomenon would be so shocking, that no one even dares to start the counting. Numerous books end up as abandoned children roaming across the world. They may find a safe harbour in libraries, if they are lucky. They are put into carton boxes when people move to another place, but risk to remain unpacked forever. Sometimes they don’t even make it, when they end up on the pavement waiting for the recycling company to collect them as ordinary waste paper. Books are touched by different hands, they have their own smell. They are torn, burnt, printed, copied, scanned. They are talked about, translated, discussed in reading groups. They follow their readers on holidays to exotic countries. They take planes, buses, trains. They listen to the tweeting of birds on a bench in the park. They have a life on their own, just as the lives they capture within.

He wakes up with the sound of cheerful children voices outside; a plastic ball bounces on the cobble stones. He turns on his side, pushes himself up and steps out of the bed. His bare feet touch the ebony parquet floor. He reaches for the switch of the lamp on the night table; a book drops. A bookmark falls out.


sheri said...

what an awesome piece of writing!! i will never look at a book in the same way after reading your the way, what are YOU reading right now???

Chasing-Thoth said...

"My Name is Memory", by Ann Brashares.