Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"once you are real you can't become unreal again; it lasts for always"

teddy roosevelt and his dog skip reading together
i have never talked about my love of books on this blog.  weird because they are about my favorite things in the world after nature. the idea came to me today saddened by reports that barnes and noble and borders are on the brink of bankruptcy and that the advent of kindle, and fierce competition from amazon and other online book warehouses threaten the bookshelves of that one place i can always turn too when boredom dares to tempt me. not only have we had to endure the doing away of the art of letter writing, now the perhaps most important source of culture and thought will disappear.  what danger as people are besought by unwanted propaganda and ads. how will we know what is out there?  word of mouth? blogs? or will serendipity mutate into an  intutive browsing through the labrynth of the worldwideweb?

books came to me thanks to my stepfather claudio.  i was a very sickly child having spent most of my childhood bedridden with every ears, nose and throat disease in the annals of medicine.  i even had to have a blood transfusion once (my grandfather  was the blood donor) on the verge of death from  "foot and mouth disease" a very painful blistering of the tongue and throat.  so my father (i have never considered him a stepfather) thought of books as a way to keep me entertained as i lay convalescing.  i still remember my first enid blyton adventures and all the ladybug books that taught me basic history and my first crafts. then came meatier books about the cuban revolution (my father was a radical thinker back then).  i took in what i wanted, discarded the rest never allowing myself to be totally brain washed.  i only craved for knowledge which would later give form to my own views and understandings. i relished in adventure when i read reasure Island for the first time and dreamt of building my own house around a tree.

i have moved countless times in my life, even across continents and beleive it or not, my books, being the heaviest to pack and pay for transport, were the top priority on my list of things to take with me o si o si as they say in chile. parting with them is out o the question even if i never read them again.  they are like people in the room with me, they have life and whn i feel a bit lost and confused, my bookshelf is where i turn to for a surprise uplifting boost in morale. it's that books always hold an answer for me, a perspective, another way of assessing life as a whole, the umbilical chord to a collective consciousness. from poet to strategist, depending n my mood, i can always find my way back to my center with a book. awareness, enlightenment, messages, answers to questions, new questions, inner turmoil, a soliloquious debate, a never ending quest for truth which is never absolute or all encompassing are the priceless gifts in books.

from an early age i could never compartmentalize thinking. i could never adhere to one line of thought philosophically which reveals to me that from the get go i was holistic in my viewpoint. nothing can be separated from anythting, everything is tied together in one big map of existence, subcultures within subcultures, all legitimate in our search and will to survive and co-exist. therefore my ample mindedness, my understanding of every imaginable "sin" Jesus gave his life for, every stream of thought.

my love of books was instant.  instant! i emphasize. i owe my vocabulary to them, my knowledge of art to them, my love of poetry to them, my understaning of presidents to them, my dexterity in cooking to them, my love of culture to them, my faith in the common man to them. 

funny thing, when i walk into bookstores, books call me, shout at me, over here, over here, read me, read me.  such was the case when i discovered bukowski or a tiny book in the travel section called "the moonlight chronicles" (by dan price, hobo artist as he describes himself) and i  never go to the travel section but that book called me, i swear.

i love children's books, art books, poetry books, decorating books, the classics, architecture and cookbooks, biographies, auto-biographies and history books, big books, little books, old books  (even with missing covers and pages) picture books and books written in foreign languages.  i think the only books i don't like are computer books or "get rich quick books".

 i still hold on to all the books i read my children, they are as important in my library as adult books, maybe even more so. i read "alexander and the no good, terrible, very bad day", many times and always close it with gratefulness. my children love for me to show them their old "old bear", "franklin the turtle" or "there's an alligator under my bed" or read them a nordic poem from a huge volume of children's classics i bought at their school.  there, again, i noticed books just speaking to me, this one, this one, this one. and i think i was never wrong.  who could ever forget the message in "the velveteen rabbit"? I cry every time when i read the part .....

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand." ......once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."

i think children's books are more for adults than for children sometimes.  i didn't get the message of this book until i had actually become real myself.  i had to go through those motions described in the conversation.

i kept falling for them more and more in school too as the BBC lectured us on British history over the loudspeakers.  i was fascinated by history, the bayeauz tapestry being my first recollection of my love for creativity.  culture summoned me, implored me to make use of my insatiable curiosity to know all.  over the years my insatiability remains the same,so much so that i tend to always be a step ahead of myself. everything is interesting to me from sociology to genetics to quantum physics although i have to admit i am lego at certain mathematical theories no matter how appealing they may be. hawkins and einstein are out of my league but that doesn't mean i'd give anything to understand at their level.  i sit in awe when steven hawkins speaks at one of his lectures.  i am drawn to such disparate personalities as john adams and wayne dyer, deeprak chopra and noam chomsky, agatha christie and pearl s. buck as well as professor claudio veliz and arnold toynbee.

and then there's the art of book making, binding, paper selection, font selection, cover design and prologues.  i hold books in my hands and ponder on every aspect that went into their realization.

and the endless quotes, lines from poems, seeds and food for thought on every level.

"don't cry for anything that can't cry for you" (sofia loren) is one of my favorites as she refers to not cryting over material things although in the case of books i must make an exception. nothing compares to the physical feeling of a book in my hands.  i fall asleep with one on my pillow every day! i would probably begin to go mad without them and my life would literally become an unbearable lightness of being.

and bookstores- mundo de papel, the small neighborhood bookstore in camarillo called bookworm always moving in search of cheaper rental space,ambushed by more and more telecomunications depots. i also love  the used bookstore in ventura abednego, the used book section in thrift stores, flea market books with old covers and obscure languages, barnes and noble, borders and its un-matched apple tarts and coffee corner in spite of coffee badly brewed by the amateur newly-hired employee, the magazine section a heaven in itself, the gift section, always with its perfect last minute gift picking solution. 

i could speak for hours on the subject of books.  i have observed enough bookstores, used bookstores and online bookstores to form many an impression, but the one that stands out the most is the amount of religious books and self help books being written which proves how alienated we still remain and how people search desperately for love and affirmation in a world filled with cliques which paradoxically never quite fill the void. so there again are books to make the road a bit more interesting, a lot less matter-of-fact.  they are always inspiration, always a trigger to magical thinking.

books cannot disappear, children's books cannot disappear, i forbid it, bookstores must live on. 
mom and pop stores will be my next defense oratory.


Colorin Colorado... said...

Qué vamos a dejarles a las generaciones que vienen? qué van a recibir nuestros hijos o nietos de nosotros? muebles de Ikea que se rompen a los 6 meses... platos y vasos de cartón por que es mucho trabajo lavar?...triste como cada vez tenemos menos para dejar de recuerdo.

Auntie Bliss said...

I have stockpiled books from yard sales because I know the day is coming that we won't be able to buy books. It is sad isn't it?! Magazines too...but I do love blogs!
My favorite children's book is The Seven Silly Eaters :)

Gloria said...

Hola Constanza! siempre es un placer pasar por aquí. Felicidades para tí! Un beso, Gloria.

Gunnels blog said...

yes, I agree, books are very important in my life too ! Thank you for the nice comment on my blog. I wish you a creative and good new 2011 !

Jacqueline said...

I enjoyed reading your impassioned post so much! So well expressed. I cry reading the Velveteen Rabbit too! I once owned a small bookshop for eight years another lifetime ago. There are so so few of them left. I feel the same way about both the content and the artifact of the book itself. My son is an artist and bookbinder, and his mate is a book conservationist at Yale University. I am proud to have bestowed their first (and second) book press to them. Thanks for your beautiful message.

maría cecilia said...

ya te imagino tendida en la playa tomando solcito y leyendo todo lo que esté a tu alcance...
grandes bendiciones para y los tuyos en el 2011!!