December 7th, 2004

bear by san

if a tree falls in the forest--

(because truepenny said I had to blog this, pursuant to a conversation we had over the weekend)

I've been thinking a lot, today, about how books are not stories.

I am weird among writers, in that I don't fetishize books.

As a reader, I don't care about signed copies (although it's nice to get them from the writer personally--but that's a matter of sentimental value rather than the signature: It's "hey, I made you this.") I don't care what condition my secondhand copies are in, as long as they're intact enough to read.

I prefer mass market paperbacks to hardcovers or trades, because first of all, I hate holding up big books to read them, and they're heavy, and they don't fit in the pocket of my favorite red blazer, either. And I feel bad if I trash a thirty-dollar book.

And I do trash books. I prop them open face-down, I write in the margins of my research books, I use dust jacket inside flaps as bookmarks. I could care *less* about books.

I'm a freak. I know it. You don't need to tell me. I don't give a good god-damn about books, as long as they're wieldy and easy to read.

What I do fetishize is stories. The thing that's one-half contained in the physical object, the book, and one-half contained in the reader's head, and one-half contained in the sapce between them. A book is an object. A story is a performance. It's a performence carried out by a cast of one for an audience of one. It's ephemeral, and it can never be duplicated, although it can be reprised by rereading the book.

Still, the experience won't be exactly the same. You may skim different bits, and focus differently, and you may be sick--and the story will come out different than last time. Especially as it will be informed by last time.

What I'm saying is that, as far as I'm concerned, a story that isn't being read doesn't exist. It serves no purpose. It is only a potential; Schrodinger's Story, until it's read. And then the story exists, emerges in the space between book and reader, and becomes larger than the sum of its parts.

(Hey, I said I fetishized stories.)

So, I guess what I'm saying is that for me, a book is a physical object. But a story is a conversation.

In other news, I've just started reading Guy Gavriel Kay's The Last Light Of The Sun. So far, so good.
  • Current Mood
    relaxed pondering
bear by san

Ask me about my turtle. Do.

So my mother-in-law finds a reptile in the middle of the road. And picks it up, thinking, logically, that it must be a desert tortoise. Since we live in the middle of the Mojave.

She brings it home, because tortoises of any description do not belong wandering down the center of the road in a residential neighborhood. And she puts it in a shady corner of the garden with some lettuce, thinking it will snack and then burrow in to hibernate. This being what tortoises do in winter.

Well, today she found it wandering around the garden again--it was on our front step--and she decides to get my father-in-law to dig it a burrow, since it's obviously too verklempt to undertake the process itself.

So my husband wanders in and says, "My dad's digging a grave for a tortoise."

And I say "Oh, the tortoise turned up again? I've never seen one of those."

And he says, "Well, it's not burrowed in yet, come look."

So I wander over there, and I'm looking at this thing, and I'm noticing it has yellow stripes on its belly, and a flat-arched shell rather than a domed one.... and a pointed nose with nostrils at the tip instead of a kind of rounded one... (At one point in my herptile-keeping career, I had a baby Eastern Painted Turtle for about six months before I re-released him.)

And I say, "I don't think that's a tortoise, guys."

So Kit googles around while I wash the mud off the tortoise/turtle. And I discover that it has webbed feet and orange stripes on his head, and that it much prefers the bathtub to the garden.... And it's doing that water-turtle thing where it just sticks its eyes and nostrils out of the water....

And finally, he goes "That's a red-eared slider."

What an aquatic turtle the size of a dinner plate is doing in the middle of a residential street in Las Vegas is anybody's guess. But he's now ensconced in a sixty-gallon tank in the bedroom with a pile of gravel and four inches of water, until we decide what to do with him. We're trying to decide whether to keep him, donate him to the school, or find out where the closest population is so we can release him. He likes salad, though *g*

He was well on his way to being entombed alive... and the dogs are *fascinated.*
  • Current Music
    Eurythmics - Sisters are doing it for themselves.
bear by san

You can't fool me, young man! It's turtles, turtles, turtles all the way down.

In non turtle-related, uncontroversial news, Happy Chanukah and also-- Well, it's not quite right to wish anyone a happy Pearl Harbor day. But maybe a moment of silence is in order all around.

It's been a weird week. Everybody at work is out sick, so my hours have spiked, and my workload while there, as well. And we had a power failure late Monday that apparently put paid to my systems files, so Tuesday was Emergency Recovery day. (It seems to have worked)

Eris is obviously having some fun with me.

In turtle-related news, the cats have discovered the turtle.

Lo, let there be windmills.
  • Current Music
    Cowboy Junkies - Lost My Driving Wheel