One of the reasons why I love the show The Office so much is that by the final scene of the final episode one breathes a sigh of contentment, turns off the program and walks about the rest of the day smiling. When you take part in a story by listening to it, reading it, watching it (etcetera) there is a certain amount of trust involved. After all, one is investing a lot of time and (often) emotional energy into the exploit, and in the case of text and audio mediums has actively co-created the story in the mind and heart—oh, the betrayal that can be felt when a most beloved character is killed off senselessly or loses his fortune or has her dreams smattered! With The Office, every good thing that I could have hoped for the characters comes to pass. I won’t say what happens, but you almost experience that the unspoken agreement between storyteller and recipient has been carried out with supreme sympathy, to the point of being comfortingly indulgent (at least I did). Everything is as it should be.
The Bookshop is decidedly not one of those stories, but I liked it anyway.
Brian K. Vaughan wrote; “There are only three forms of high art: the symphony, the illustrated children’s book and the board game” (Saga, Volume 3).
While I think there are many other great art forms besides these, there is more than a nugget of truth in the proposition that children’s picture books really can (often do) belong right up there with any true art. Here are three such books that I was particularly interested in given their shared (and relatively specific) motif: walking the streets of one’s hometown or home-city at nighttime. They are each beautiful in their own way, and capture something simple but expressive.
The Way Home in the Night [Akiko Miyakoshi] Continue reading
“It is only ideas gained from walking that have any worth.” –Nietzsche
Strong words, Nietzche: strong words.
I wouldn’t say the ONLY ideas of worth are those gained from walking; according to The Encyclopedia of Sleep and Dreaming, Elias Howe (inventor of the sewing machine), struggled for ages to develop such a machine. For eons, he came up against a brick wall. The answer came to him in a dream (when the limbs are paralyzed, and decidedly not walking, unless in the rare case of ‘switching errors’ when individuals are prone to sleep-walking, which as far as I’m aware, Howe wasn’t*). And as my dad (a reliable source in a quantity of subject areas) told me, the song Across the Universe was composed in Lennon’s sleep. Lennon considered the song’s lyrics among the greatest, most poetic he had ever written, according to a 1970 interview with Rolling Stone. All this without even being awake, let alone propelling the body forward, one foot after the other. J. K. Rowling invented much of the world of Harry Potter while seated on a train, or seated at cafes in Edinburgh, Scotland (as I’ve known since my eighth grade presentation about her). So yes, ideas are all around and can be thought up in a variety of postures, but there is something to be said for a good un-pestered walk to clear the mind, think things through, and handle a big decision.
There is more to Gros’ ode to walking than touting the advantage of walking for the purposes of inspiration. Continue reading