What do you think about the book, he asked me?
I am not sure, I answered. It’s mixed. There is a sense of distance, like I cannot really get i n t o the characters, i n t o the book, in the way I like, to get engulfed. There are parts written in a way that I cannot fathom how any one person can actually come up with something like that (specifically the parts written about the tissues of the body). That fascinates me as it’s not something I could ever in a million year see myself doing. And then… at times, there are passages that absolutely knocks the breath out of me, with stunning clarity, beauty, punch.
“Bigger questions, questions with more than one answer, questions without an answer are harder to cope with in silence. Once asked they do not evaporate and leave the mind to its serener musings. Once asked they gain dimension and texture, trip you on the stairs, wake you at night-time. A black hole sucks up its surroundings and even light never escapes. Better then to ask no questions? Better then to be a contented pig than an unhappy Socrates? Since factory farming is tougher on pigs than it is on philosophers I’ll take a chance.”
These passages in Written on the body, they are not a soft pastel aquarelle painting. This is a book of oil on canvas, thick, rich colours and textures, dramatic and real.
“The earliest pilgrims shared a cathedral for a heart. They were the temple not made with hands. The Eklasia of God. The song that carried them over the waves was the hymn that rung the rafters. Their throats were bare for God. Look at them now, heads thrown back, mouths open, alone but for the gulls that dip the prow. Against the too salt sea and the inhospitable sky, their voices made a screen of praise.
Love it was that drove them forth. Love that brought them home again. Love hardened their hands against the oar and heated their sinews against the rain. The journeys they made were beyond common sense; who leaves the hearth for the open sea? especially without a compass, especially in winter, especially alone. What you risk reveals what you value. In the presence of love, hearth and quest become one.”
Written on the body was the book-du-jour of the GIFTED book club meet up today. D chose the book, and boy, did he ever open it up for me (and the others I think). There are layers and layers to be discovered in this book. A spider web intricately woven by Jeanette Winterson, and D, with his passion and love for the beauty and hidden meaning/s of this (and other) books, pushed the door open for me. Made me realize there’s a whole universe to discover with this book as the entry way.
All of a sudden…. it’s a book I am more curious about now, that I was when I had first read it. Makes me want to read it again, to see if I can discover a few of the references and subtly hidden messages D talked so passionately about tonight!