Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Ritual of Ideas in Print Becoming Ideas of the Soul

So I've been reading lately. The book isn't important, because I'll review it (probably highly) in the blog once I'm done with it. What matters though is that I'm reading at all. You see, I'm something of a cyclical kind of guy.

Cyclical, you ask (play along). You mean, like the tides and the stock market and bad fashion trends?

Sort of, I answer. But with considerably more panache.

I tend to fixate on my hobbies. I'll be really into something for a while, and that's all I'll do. I'll watch movies four a day, or I'll read books like mad, or I'll write until I wreck my hands, or I'll play games until my eyes cross. It's just the kind of guy I am.

I haven't been into reading for about 10 months. Last time I was into reading, I was REALLY into reading. Like, it wasn't healthy. I would read three novels a week for almost two months. I read more novels in that short time than most American adults will read between the diploma and the grave. So either I'm awesome or they're terrible or some combination of the two.

But when I fell out of reading, I really fell out of it. Minus a small thing here or there, I didn't read a single thing of note for months. Until now. When I find myself trying to pick up reading again as my initiative to 'get my life together' or something equally highfalutin' I find that it's like doing it again for the first time, and the tactile responses I've had to books have been interesting.

Mass market paperback books are deceptively light. You can pick them up like they're nothing, even though they take up a large amount of space. Something so light containing so much density when you flip through it is a little exciting.

I find that the cheaper the paperback, the more tactile the response (unless you have a truly expensive hardbound copy). The paper feels pulpy, it has a sensation of wood. You can almost feel the fibers where something living was turned into something dead so you can have your ideas presented to you in that fashion. A sacrifice of flesh to the gods of the mind.

Finally, there comes a point when you realize in a really thick paperback that the left side of the book is considerably thicker than the right now, and in realizing that point there is a great sense of empowerment. Something is being transferred to you. The book suddenly feels more weighty in your hands. The thing you're holding is suddenly a weapon, a sharpened well balanced sword ready to be added to your arsenal.

I suppose part of that is in the ritual of reading. I'm right handed, and regularly hold my paperbacks with a single hand while reading, and as I continue further into the book the side closest to me increases while the side further diminishes. The ritual transfers the bulk towards myself, as I take in the substance that's upon the pages. It's truly tactile.

That's all I've got. I just wanted to post a bit about the experience of reading. Next week will likely be the review. Read on, good people. And maybe think a bit about what you're doing. It makes the experience all the more delicious.

1 comment:

uppington said...

Awesome post! I too love the tactile experience of reading, but had never stopped to consciously notice all of the sensations you describe. Mine is a little more generic, the smell of the book, the feel of it in my hands, the caution required in reading an old favorite that's beginning to fray. No electronic readers for me.