I was taught how to break in a book by a Junior High School librarian. I was a library worker. Junior High School is what we used to call Middle School.
I have started breaking in books again since I have noticed that many of them fall apart of old age. I wonder if I had broken them in properly they would be in such bad shape as old books.
Relating to the physical object of the book might be something that young students might be lacking.
I have been teaching the Bible to my Kids’ Choir. I give them all Bibles and ask them to find the Psalms. They seem to have no idea what I am talking about. I mention that the Bible is divided up into two main parts, Old and New Testament. After some discussion they seem to understand this. But still putting their hands on the correct part of the book is something of a puzzle for them.
In order to get them to understand the proportions of the physical book I suggest that the psalms are somewhere in the middle.
Doing this reminds me that sometime in my education a teacher taught me to estimate exactly where I wanted to land in a book and to turn there. For example using a dictionary I automatically think of where the word I am looking for might possibly be and attempt to open the page at that point.
As I use my Kindle and computer I think about the fact that I continue to do these kinds of mental processes which are based on a relationship to the physical object. I wonder how readers who don’t have a relationship to a physical experience and instead are reading screens of one type or another conceptualize.
I know that using the Oxford English Dictionary online is a great experience. I like the interface they have built to this huge collection of information. Much easier to use it than the multi-volume version (which I never could afford anyway).
So there are the inevitable trade offs of change.
In the meantime, I value my own visualizations and attempts at dragging my physical experience of reading (which I value) into my cyber experiences (which I also value).
Here’s a beautiful paragraph I read this morning in Lyndall Gordan’s bio of T. S. Eliot which sparked some of my musings.
Soul history and sermon are the dominant forms of American writing from the time of the Puritan settlement in the seventeenth century; to retrieve them is to be that quintessential New Englander which Eliot claimed transplantation brought out. For he shared with Emerson, Thoreau, and Dickinson, and Whitman too, a guarded mode of confession Unlike St. Augustine or Rousseau, who draw us into intimacy, these Americans throw the onus of introspection back into the lap of the reader. Their confessions, like The Waste Land, are fragmentary and, left so deliberately incomplete, demand a reciprocal effort. The point lies not in their content so much as in the reader’s act of self-discovery and judgment. The purpose is not expose the speaker but to create the reader.”
from T. S. Eliot: An Imperfect Life by Lyndall Gordan, p. 149
In addition here are two poems by Jack Micheline I read this morning and admire.
EVERYWHERE I GO
Everywhere I go is beauty
street lights glowing in the darkness
I want to run up to strangers and kiss then
but there is too much noise
men kill each other
I’m sick and tired of seeing sad faces
stop that bastard machine
everyone is God and Holy
a spike is ripping at my throat
I smell a fragrance of a rose
every I go is beauty
NOBODY HAS TIME FOR LIGHT
I was sitting in my room
shining with light
I called up twenty people
to come and look at my shining light
and nobody came
my room shining with light
Nobody has time for light!