When your hands fold around covers, the pages fanning before you, the book speaks… without
words. Your senses liven as it is a thing in itself. You see time passed impressed upon the pages and
cover, or shiny new objects. You hear old crisp pages that crackle while new pages whir. You feel the
weight, and maybe a creased spine. You inhale the iconic scent of ink and paper. In defense of the
object, the physical book holds secrets that enrich the world within.
As we enter the old bookshop, the air silently buzzes with time. Whether books smell of fresh ink or
worn paper, one's olfactory has the longest memory. Candles are made to recreate this particular
alluring scent. Combing the shelves, an index finger grazes worn covers, creased spines proving
someone has been there before you. Thumbing through aged pages, the book chatters while the
reader's eye seeks words gathering groups for meaning. In this warm wood filled shop, books can
endure, rest and await their new home, for there is no hurry.
A tome selected for further discovery. Turning pages, you spy clues as to the book's provenance.
Visual reflections are embedded its experience. The bleeding brown ring on the cover is permanent
proudly showing a reader's use as coaster.
Markings and commentary respond to the work scribbling and scribing along the edges of text.
More in-depth thoughts at the end of each chapter include dates. Blowing life into the pages, they
separate illuminating another's reflections, as experience has been meticulously noted. The inside
front cover telling the object was a gift, the date showing that the book was new at the time. The
name of the receiver, iconic of the era. Houston, we have a name. We now know who first imprinted
their residue on the well-worn read.
Drawings and musings demonstrate play. Readers have spent time with the book and may well
have traveled with it. Or perhaps the hardback was toted to the doctor's waiting room, with best
intentions, too distracted to dive into words. Thermometers and the Rx symbol peppers the page
along with interconnected geometric pencil marks meandering at a chapter's beginning.
Interruption documented. A moment in time recorded.
Miscellaneous objects nested in between pages create a dialogue with the thing itself as well as
subsequent readers. A short grocery shopping list has found home expressing regionality as a
couple of the words are particular to place, maters being one. A newspaper obituary clipping tells of
a moment in time honoring a soul that will remain in the reader's memories and heart. Once sighted
by another, that soul comes alive in the experience, as witnessed, as acknowledged. The last name is
the same as the inside cover. A flower expresses feeling-presence. Its life immortalized as the
delicate petals were so carefully arranged, keeping the obituary company.
To me, there is a sense within things, a residue as a form of way-showing. Each individual that
comes in contact with an object leaves something behind. It may be recognized by our physical
senses or it may be more intuitive. I consider that the more one uses, possesses, interacts with the
thing, the more residue remains adhering like a form of electroplating. When earning my BFA in
photography, I explored the idea of an object marked by the soul's involvement. The first body of
work, titled Raconteur, I weaved together imagery of objects with their peoples quilting their
experience, telling a tale. My second examination, Modal Existence, interpreted the concept via
photogravures and a metal folio book and case I created for the copper plates for which I used to
print the photogravures.
Close your eyes and imagine as you hold a book that has experienced foretime. Engage your senses.
Call in your intuition. What surfaces from your crystal wands, your fingertips?
Walking into the brightly lit bookstore. Unexperienced books shine. The small shop's wooden floor
creaks as your eyes lift to meet the signage above you. Trajectory, the latest from one of your
favorite authors. The process of scanning the shelves is akin to a treasure hunt where you know you
will find the gold, if it hasn't sold out that is. X marks the spot! Flipping the book from its nest, it
only opens a smidge as its spine is standing certain.
Feeling the texture of paper, your fingertips pinch creating a cascade of passing pages. You are
careful not to get a paper cut. The sound repeats as you fan the pages before your eyes for a
preview. The newness of the read brings a special kind of anticipation.
You align with the buzz of fellow readers in the same position. Vibrations resonate as ethereal
connections are made. As interdependent, you add to the whole of it letting your way-of-being free
to be read by another. Astral communing.
Folded into your arm huddled next to your body, this one copy is yours. Standing in line, another
acknowledges your selection. A lively conversation about the series ensues. You both speculate
about the now warmed book in your hand, what it may hold inside. The cashier calls for you and
touches your book already imprinting another experience while the chatterer goes back to the stacks
to procure their very own copy.
Some readers surround their personal space with analog books. The reasons for collecting, a unique
combination that generates a magnetic elixir. The personal resonance of the object attracts. Knowing
the letters, words, poetry, story within, make sit a keeper. The idea of what the book symbolizes to
the reader draws the tome to the shelf. Emotional connections to the tale bind one to the physical
book. Perhaps it's the aesthetic of a wall of books, limited editions or gold-leaf titles over rich
colorful leather shining as iconography for a reader.
Bookshelves contain what is temporary, just as we are. As books are mostly made of natural
materials, they have a shelf life. Whether made of wood, bamboo or another substance, one's books
are living a life, just as they are.
Holding a device reading tale after tale, the digital book is housed within a compact virtual
bookshelf. These stories are temporary as well, for formats consistently evolve. Technology is in a
flow state. One might say that the sensory experience is not as rich. Some say that their eyes cannot
accept the backlighting for long. For me, as much ebbs and flows on the planet, so may qualities of
digital. It contains its own qualities as the thing itself.
The sensory experience of a book as an object can enrich your conscious state, subconscious as well
as memories while reading. Perhaps upon conclusion of your book, you will recall more details,
sense the story in various ways, connect with the previous keeper as a friend and develop a
memory of the reading experience itself.
There's space for both formats. As the past, present, and future are not in competition, one is neither
better nor worse. They just are and it just is. We choose.