By Bobbi Lurie.
Andrew Gallix’s essay, “The Unread and the Unreadable” has led me to search for, and think about, many books, both read and unread. I appreciate 3:AM Magazine placing my comment here (Andrew Gallix’s essay, already has 439 comments).
Most of all, I wish to thank Andrew Gallix for leading me, somehow, to come to the conclusion that read/unread and/or partially read books have led to all our sorrows…
Please know I am not referring to Rob Lopresti’s book, How Overdue Library Books Caused the Civil War.
I’m referring to bigger books…
I was raised on the first book and, from an early age, came to understand that readers of the second book might not like that I was reading the first book but not the second book.
I also came to realize, early on, that readers of the first book tend not to read the second book, even though readers of the second book often read the first.
There are violent parts in both books but, being as these two books are filled with anti-war statements, I can only conclude that these books remain, basically, unread. For example:
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:1-3).
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19).
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
“The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5).
I think of Moses, how he needed to take a break from all the worded wounds of the former slaves. I think how he took his stuttering self up to Mount Sinai, for forty days and forty nights, in order to make known the words he could speak. He brought down two stone tablets containing ten Tweets: The Ten Commandments.
Is that it? was what the critics said. They wanted something complicated and erudite. Later, of course, they, themselves, turned those ten commandments into 613, even though there is really only one.
We wander away from ourselves with words.
A blank sheet of paper before us…
We are asked to write our name.
The body is a book. Fill in the blank: boy, girl, black, white, Gentile, Jew, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Gay, Straight, Tory, Republican, Labour, Democrat, Writer etc.
What happens when the third book appears on the reading lists of those who inherited the first and/or second book?
What happens to the third book in relationship to the other books, including the fourth, fifth, sixth book? (the order only reflects the definition given to me to /for me from the word — name — I carry…).
Below are some of the quotes I wanted to send Andrew Gallix in my first comment — but I couldn’t find any of Jabès’s books until after the first comment was sent:
I went to the word … And I am going.
You try to be free through writing. How wrong. Every word unveils another tie.
I get up with the page that is turned. I lie down with the page put down.
He followed me through the streets of Paris. And he knew my story by heart.
When, as a child, I wrote my name for the first time, I knew I was beginning a book.
The nights and mornings of the syllables which are mine, yes.
They live cramped in their deeds, in their hovels of ink.
I am absent because I am the teller. Only the tale is real.
But between the time I found Jabès and the time I wrote this essay, I came to believe Anselm Kiefer illustrates the beauty of Andrew Gallix’s essay best:
And, although Hitler is dead, and Anselm Kiefer has moved on from his obsession with the unread/unwritten/unreadable book, Mein Kampf remains in print.
Mark the first page of the book with a red marker. For, in the beginning, the wound is invisible. – Jabès
“That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.”
Read Bobbi’s previous article here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bobbi Lurie‘s fourth poetry collection, the morphine poems, was recently published by Otoliths (Australia). Her television reviews can be found in Berfrois. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, though she once lived in Chester, England, bordering Wales, and she misses it; she misses the word, “ta,” especially. She does not know how to punctuate; it may be too late to learn; she keeps using semi-colons, improperly (maybe; maybe not).
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Saturday, June 1st, 2013.