Sunday, May 25, 2008

Every Page Wants to be Read....

It took me a minute to register what that sound was, it was menacingly loud & very shrill like a 5 inch man yelling at you from the floor while you stand. I instinctively stared down, but couldn't find a small human figure to associate that voice with. At first I thought I was hallucinating, was I? I couldn't possibly ignore that voice & couldn't figure out where it was coming from. So I did the next best thing, I tried to listen to it. It was a constant, almost rhythmic yelp, it screeched onto my ear drums like a finger nail scratching on your high school black board. It said, & kept on saying, "hey, how are you, why don't you put your eyes on me, don't you find me as good as page 102, don't like to know what I have to say?; hey, how are you, why ....." & the same thing all over again.

I thought I was positively going mad, but I wasn't, I knew it because everything else still seemed possible apart from the voice. Then I really decided to pay some attention from where the voice was coming from. I bent down to look under my table, I heard the voice getting a little weak. Then I stood up again & on my way up I passed by the book lying open on my desk & page 103 was fluttering. The moment I stared at page 103, the voice stopped. Then again, I moved my eyes to something else & just as the voice began, I stared at the page once again. Dead silence. I picked up the book & started to read the paragraph which I had left just 15 minutes ago before dozing off on the table. The voice has subsided since then.

But seriously, does the above story provoke something in me, really made me say something which could have been said in just a few insignificant lines? I think it did, thats what an unfinished book must make a bibliophile feel. There are some feelings which we can't find words for. Such feelings, or such thoughts occur to almost everyone I presume. But what really happens when someone else gives your thoughts, the words, the meaning, the purpose, the spin. Such sultans of words live amongst us, they keep on feeding our vocabulary of thoughts with the exact words which we always wanted to say but just couldn't.

Like the story, which was inspired by what Taleb said in the Black Swan, in the chapter, "Umberto Eco's Anti Library", "You will accumulate more knowledge & more books as you grow older & the growing number of unread books will look at you menacingly". This was such a profound thought, almost like an epiphany, exactly my thoughts printed on a paper, in one of the most influential books I have read so far.

Such books live in my room, almost like migratory birds. Once finished they change places with new books. Sometimes they are on my computer screen, sometimes they are on my shelf & sometimes (but most often) they sit right in front of me just a few inches above my computer screen. Whenever I look at the computer, my peripheral vision is always occupied with at least one book staring at me. I don't know what the book is thinking, but it just looks intently, waiting for someone in its vicinity to pick it up & start flipping through its pages, with a deliberate precision.

Imagine what every page while being printed & bound into a book must be thinking. It only has a singular wish that someone will posses the book which its a part of & then reach that page & read it & make a difference in that reader's state of mind. I don't think any page thinks otherwise, school text books might. The page has one desire, it wants to be read, it wants the reader to reach a level of abstraction in thought & in action which he didn't have before reading that page. Maybe that page contains the climax of a soon-to-end mystery thriller or maybe its the page that makes the whole difference in understanding a concept. It can also be that page, which has no great information, but might lead you to the moment-of-truth. The brotherhood of pages which we read all the time, has that singular obsession to fulfill its hearts desire, make every one who reads them, be bestowed with at least one zillionth of a new thought, a spark or even a contemplation.

A book which doesn't think on these lines, a page which doesn't have this obsession can be easily called a text book. But I think even some text books have made me feel; They have occasionally made me sit up an take notice that there are many other books on my shelf which I am not reading. Well thats a thought, I thank all my text books for that.

In the pilot episode of House, there is an insanely hilarious dialog by House who in his classic demeanor to avoid work, says, "as the philosopher Jagger said, ' You can't always get what you want '". I think there must be those disappointed pages living their unread lives on someone's bookshelf or even in some forgotten warehouse. Well, allow me to repeat what philosopher Jagger said...

They didn't get a chance to reach that brain which would have cherished their company, they didn't get a chance to change the world; to make that small dent to someone's thought. They didn't get the chance to prevail in someone's memory of them, who would remember exactly where they are & would read them time & again to relive the magic of reading them.

But to House's wise line, Dr Cuddy (his boss), replies at the end of the show, "I looked up the philosopher you mentioned, & he also says, ' if you try sometimes, you get what you need' ". This just might make that unread page feel some satisfaction that someone thought that it was worthy enough to have something printed upon it.

Song for the moment: Rolling Stones - You can't always get what you want

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YY said...

nice post! i think all of us have anthropomorphized our books once in a while..
a nagging feeling at the back of my head has resurfaced because of this post- my number of half read books has been steadily increasing these days..i think it all started after i began this habit of reading more than one book at a time, i end up reading a few pages of book A, and then a few pages of book B, book C and so on. this results in me not makin any headway with any book. :( and i don;t enjoy what i read either because all the while i think i should be reading the other book thats lying on my table..
i think it all began with too many options in the first place, and now my brain can't make up its mind..

Anonymous said...

I am sorry, that has interfered... I here recently. But this theme is very close to me. I can help with the answer.

Raunak said...

@Anon - What're you trying to say?