July 26, 2014

Reading and Fear

There’s something about the blank page, and the written word on it. Develop a fetish for notebooks simply because you think of them as waiting to be filled with hopes, and dreams, and tales. Or simply to be filled with insipid grocery lists and accounts: the minutiae of everyday life which, added up, often really are the sum total of our lives. It doesn’t always matter what language the text is in: it’s sometimes the beauty of the script alone that leaves you marvelling.

Of text you can decipher, read relentlessly. Fail to remember what it is that you’ve read. Pick up a book firmly believing that you’ve never laid eyes on it before only to have a stray turn of phrase, so innocuous that it seemingly doesn’t bear remembrance, remind you that the book isn’t new to you after all.

Go back to books you know you’ve read but can barely remember; find in them stories you hadn’t noticed earlier. Realise that if a book is any good at all, it bears re-reading. Only once you’ve traced the words and know what’s next can you truly savour the text. Though perhaps that’s not always what you want to do.

Read incessantly, intensely to escape the present, perhaps, or, maybe, to understand it. Realise that sometimes there isn’t too much of a difference between the two. If nothing else, the distance a book can give you from your own reality may enable you to create the space to understand it. And that’s not even counting the books which specifically focus on your circumstances.

But at the end of the day, recognise that you have no idea of what you’ve read. Lose the ability to place a single source. Know that everything you’ve ever read is an amorphous mass to you. Have your greatest fear, not entirely logically, rear its head, if only in paranoia: aphasia.