I’ve been thinking about books.
Last week I went to a show by Gavin Kostick of Fishamble. It was a nice thing – there was dancing, over-head projectors, someone struggling out of a tent and someone playing the accordian.
What I liked more than any of this though was Gavin talking about how he hit 40 and, rather than buying a sports car or an exercise bike, he learnt a book. Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. All of it, and ended up performing it as a, by all accounts astounding, solo show. What struck me about this was simply what an astoundingly beautiful, unusual, pointless task it was. Like something someone might spend their life trying to do in Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel – a quest so full of obsession and love.
If you had to choose one book to memorize – what would it be?
Think. Walk yourself through the dusty aisles of all the books you’ve ever read. Peer over at the wrinkled spines piled on a shelf nearby. This is a task that’s going to take you at least six months probably. Day upon day spent wandering back and forth memorizing – going over paragraphs, passages, chapters – again and again and again. Mumbling to yourself on the walk to work, on the train. Those characters becoming so familiar. The locations and events like your own memories, bleeding in to each other – your life slowly being refracted through somebody else’s creation.
And then, when it’s all done, this thing is with you forever. Even as chunks of it start to fade it will remain. You will never see this book in the same way. Like a friendship that spontaneously explodes into something else, you can never go back.
This has to be an act of love. What book could you bare to be with for that long? What book would you dare to risk losing forever, for the sake of something more.?