Thursday, March 22, 2012

What books are about

Why is a book such a novelty (no pun fucking intended, you forget about that pun) and a newspaper such a waste of paper? Somehow, through technology's forever advancing gait, books remain as important as books do. But an obnoxious running joke that can be credited to Andrew Rogers brings up a valid point.

Books ... what are those about?

You see a book in a bookstore and you pick it up. That's a lie. You see a book you've heard about or by an author you have previously experienced and enjoy or on a subject that's absolutely compelling to you, and you decide that's what you want to spend your aunt's gift card on this year. So you open it, which somehow is still a fun thing to do: turn a book from this craftily designed object to a wall of words that paints a four-dimensional (TIME IS THE FOURTH DIMENSION, MORE ON THAT LATER) picture. You set off on a journey, meeting friends and exploring places, you form and inherit opinions of characters and, while we're here, oftentimes the words you gloss over are the ones that set tone. Those inconsequential-seeming adjectives that you ride on by are forming a mood. Anyway, where do these characters go?

Books are obsessed with death. So many books. So much death. I haven't read relatively very many books. But, when you read books, people so often die in them. From the beginning of time, grand stories have involved death. It speaks to human nature, to want to hear about those that died, perhaps as a means of previewing our days' end. Sometimes it's that we're the ones who live while the wicked die. Other times it's the honorable who die (or are they honorable because they died?) and the wicked who deteriorate in other ways. So, in books, we like death. Death is finality, death is tone, death is the point around which the story then revolves, because death is ultimate, and for a story to achieve perfection, it must include death, be it of the beast or of the challenger.

So often, people die from other people. In stories, murder is always interesting, and I think that's because we all like murder. Not that we like when people are murdered, but the emotions of a person willing to wrench life out of someone else are fascinatingly tattered, usually, in one way or another. We read, we think "I wouldn't have done that," and are satisfied in ourselves. Or, in the rare instance, disappointed.

Characters are so fun. They rise and fall in favor like stocks. Dynamics make everything interesting. As in music, notes can make a melody, but dynamics are required, the shifting and configuring of those notes, to make music. Dynamic characters are we, and we love ourselves, thus we love dynamic characters. We love watching someone we hate do something we love, and turn it around; We abhor watching someone we love do something we hate, and loosen their status as beloved.

Books are about, so far according to this post, death and change. They're about life. Usually, in forms of it, the things that happen in it, the occurrences and unoccurrences. All the things we think of happening that don't, as well as all the things we don't think about that do happen. And everything in between. It is an intersection between thought and action, between hypothetical and actual, between standards and circumstances.

Books are also about love. We could say "and they were in love." and be done with it, but nay, we must make it so vibrant. As our hearts would beat more, we would describe the moment in greater detail. That's why kisses take place in slow motion so often. You must take in everything, the manner in which he closes his eyes, or what her eyebrows do when their lips finally touch, or that expression on both their faces when love actions are impending.

Love, I guess, also falls under the "life" category. And books, they do this because they can, hit on the things we don't get to see every day. Murder is big, because of course we would never murder, not us. Change is huge, because we do it ourselves, but we cannot see it, we only see it in others. Love is important because love is the flower of human interaction (deep shot, that) and it's much easier to watch the flower bloom than to be that blooming flower. Plus, when that flower dies, you survive, despite being disappointed.

We like seeing relationships begin more than we like seeing them end. Though we are more interested in their end than we are in their beginning. Books feed this interest appropriately.

What happens in life if not the deaths of those around you? Would the answer possibly the death of you yourself?

Some change is good, other change is bad. We want to know how to change and when. Enter books.

--Eliot Sill

No comments:

Post a Comment