On the floor next to my sofa are stacks of books: poetry, art, essays, graphic novels, art…a wide range of subjects. Although some books come and go, others have remained on the stacks for years. Every morning, I chose one to open at random, to read a bit of something to start the day. Often late in the evening, when I’m tired and still hunting for just the right expansive connection to include in an Improvised Life article — and have found nothing online — I turn back to those same stacks.
Invariably, I find a reading that is remarkable for how perfectly it applies —synchronous!— but even more so for the fact that I have never read it before. How is it possible to keep finding completely new treasures in the dog-eared volumes that I think I’ve read every page of? (Or as Woody Allen wrote in The Kugelmass Episode, “Who is this character on page 100? A bald Jew is kissing Madame Bovary?“)
Although I am astonished daily at the incredible treasures that I find online, the pleasure of a paper, analog book is a far different experience. Letting a physical book open where it may, the experience of “random” is magnified, as is the delight of being mysteriously presented, via something utterly tangible, with something just right: both illumination and fuel.
My brain makes connections in a completely different way than with a computer.
….If I were to describe how I put together a piece of writing, it is this way, described by clothing designer Rei Kawakubo in the pamphlet from her recent exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, that opened just now to this:
“I remember reading about the way a novelist works. It is said that he doesn’t think up an outline and write from the top. He writes bits and pieces and puts them together at the end. That sounded familiar to me.”
…bits and pieces put together at the end…