“A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called "leaves") imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.”
-Carl Sagan. Rest well, your work continues
I recently picked up a fun novel by a local artist and former teacher of mine. The story so far is very teen romance, but it has wonderful hints of the lessons and wisdom that only a person only achieves by living, sometimes much more than fourty years. Sagan's words echo in response to the deluge of my thoughts rushing through the void as I read. So here I am again, dear reader. The call has been heard and I find myself putting down the book and taking up my pen.
"One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person..." Beyond simply a recording of a voice, when one reads a book, they get to feel what they feel and see how they see. When I read this book, I feel not only how she wants her characters to be seen, but also how she sees herself. When I read this book, I feel the years teaching, her childhood, her thoughts on political issues, her entire personal awakening as it unfolded over years in the culmination of a vessel to try to communicate it. In Carl Sagan's book, Contact, the characters, the world, and the story are all just metaphors for the inner struggle of his own balance of spirituality and science. What I am trying to say is that not only do we read a story, but in reading we can see right to the raw essence of that person because they poured their life into it. The same is true for ANY craft from glasswork to graffiti. I find myself picking up my old books and searching beyond the words to find the artist beneath them-- to connect with another briefly so that I may peer outside myself and into the void where all become one.
"Across the milennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently..." Transcendent of time, transcendent of culture, transcendent of gender, transcendent of race, transcendent of space, transcendent of all the limitations of our physical bodies, all mediums of communication including books connect us to something other than ourselves-- something far larger than ourselves. For a moment, I am her writing at her desk. In that moment, I feel the connections and hidden meanings behind every word. I feel the weight of a scene for its meaning for her and not how it is continuing the story forward. These transcendent mediums of connection we refer to as "art" are truly far more sacred than we give them grace for in our cultural rituals.
"Binding together people..." Every denizen of every generation of all mankind past and future are all individual cups overflowing with love, experience, and life force. I believe that each and every one wants to reach out onto this comparably infinite canvas of the universe and leave their mark. My theory is that this cling to mortality and desire to leave a mark comes from this universal desire to connect to a greater power. Great cinema and storytelling let us live another life and connect to others. This connection IS divine. It is love, it is heaven, it is a greater spirit, it is one communication between two cups, hanging over the infinite connection of all cups overflowing together as one.
"Proof that ... humans can work magic." I am highly romantic and occasionally refer to cell phones as technologically mediated telepathy, so I love this line. But seriously, I feel that this magic lies of the fringe of action and reaction, like a shadow trailing blue. Books, words, cinema, tapestries, canvasses splotched with ink, experience crafting, arts of any and every kind are magic. They are a magic that connects souls, shares experience, and allow two to become one, even if only briefly. But I will only call it magic for today, dear reader. I call it magic only because we do not understand it well enough to call it a triumph of science...
Anywho. Enjoy the magic.