Books are so damn sexy! Or should that be sensual? Perhaps a bit of both… One of the most attractive things I find in a partner, in my case women, is brains. “Mmmmm…. You have a sexy brain!” Perhaps not the best chat up line ever. Good looks and lovely hair help too, but it’s the knowledge, a burning fire of a mind that gives me the horn as Dudley Moore would have said.
Books are such lovely things, they have weight, they have texture and most importantly they have smell. They are very real things and deserve treating with respect.
I have a lot of books and while some are old friends that you know inside out, all battered and falling apart with bits dropping off (sounds like me before my heart op) others just sit there, daring you to go near them.
Some books are like shitty friends, they lurk around my flat glaring at me accusatorially because I am not giving them my constant and undivided attention. Haruki Murakame’s 1q84 is one of those, I struggled through book one and now books two through six sit here wondering why I haven’t been near them yet. And then there are the books that merrily swallow up your time, eating up the precious seconds of your life and giving you nothing in return, shiny titled airport novels are best avoided as are their human equivalent.
Whenever I meet someone new I subtlety check out their book collection, you can learn so much in a very short space of time and if someone doesn’t have any books at all… Run! Run away as fast as you can. And if they have a library of entirely self help books, back away slowly and get out of there.
I have to admit though, I am reading a self help book at the moment, the infamous “Men are from Mars, women are from Venus.” Or as I am learning to call it “every stupid thing that Chris does wrong, you muppet!” I would like to think it would help me somehow but at the moment it just mocks me from its hideous, American grade, wood pulp pages.
I wish I had more time for my books, I read a bit sitting on the beach on sunny days, kidding myself I am actually on holiday, but mostly it’s a little bit late at night before nodding out with a book on my chest and my glasses still on. They have the right idea in Cuba where they employ readers in their cigar factories, someone to impart knowledge, culture, whatever, to the people beavering quietly away. That would be lovely, that would, someone to read while I work away at a drawing or whatever.
I have many art books, I keep them in a bookcase where I can view their spines whilst lying in bed. I find their presence strangely comforting, a bit like the childhood teddy looking down on me from atop a cupboard. There is only one thing nicer to wake up to, but sadly I have to make do with the books and I certainly won’t be bringing them a cup of tea in the morning. Anyway, I digress, I use an awful lot of visual reference material, there used to be a time when if I needed an image I would have to go and find it in a book and sometimes I would have to go out and buy one just to get hold of a photograph or an illustration. Now, I just type, sea dragon, electron microphotography, Caravagio or whatever into Google and up it all pops. Don’t even have to leave my seat, I’ve got a bit lazy and crap with this, I have to admit. Then the other day I was trying to find William Blake’s images of lucifer for a painting project. I try with my work to draw from as larger frame of reference as I can, from classical, through trashy popular culture and into the obscurest of things I can find, I only wish I could read Chinese and Japanese , things would get really interesting then.
Anyway, I got off my bottom and made it over to the bookcase to find my complete illustrated Blake (like you do). Then, the weirdest of things happened, I found a big book on Richard Dadd that I couldn’t remember owning or even buying for that matter. Dadd is perhaps the most infamous of the “locked up and left to paint” crew for which I have dubious envy. He took a fit in his head one day, got on a coach, took a journey of a day or so, found his dad and stabbed him in the head and then murdered a total stranger just for good measure. He was spared the noose which awaited him as his family had money and influence, which went a long way in Victorian England, and he instead was confined to a private mental hospital where over many years he created a handful of the most detailed, obsessive and intricate of paintings.
How on earth did I forget I had this book? What else is lurking that I have forgotten about? Another two books arrived this week, an odd London detective novel and a book by Jon Ronson where he meets people who have made a total arse of themselves in public, quite apt I thought after my recent descent into mental ill health for which I still get filthy looks most days. How will I ever catch up? I dream of owning a home with a proper library. Knackered leather armchairs a brass and wood ladder on runners so as to reach the highest shelves, a many leafed aspydistra in a big blue and white Victorian plant pot and big Tiffany lamps to read by as the sun sets over the sea…. Dream on I say, dream on.