Thursday, April 14, 2011


It would be nice to be able to read.
I'm learning how to read a new way. I hear the letters.
It's like reading a page of tiny flies. The s-h-u-z-u-z-z-i-n-g
is barely audible at first. It's familiar to me from the u-z-z-i-n-g
sound my bicycle tires make when I ride the crushed lime path.
I am on the path to find a book. So first I have to go to market
before I decipher the letters. Here, the insects will be helpful too.
Some of us here are looking for fruit, some for a new pair of shoes,
and some for a new identity.

I would be nearest to the type looking for a new pair of shoes.
As I said, the buzzing gets into my clothes so it follows
that it also get into my shoes. The pair of shoes I have now
is rather silent. They are a light pair of shoes. I can jump
over two feet in the air in them. This will get me to the top shelf.
The books still obey the rule of going no higher than the top row
at your pedestrian shelves. Most people believe that it was Lodi
who gave the books wings. Booksellers began noticing that several
of their books, usually the garden variety kind, were missing.
The books would be returned by people with serious overtones
in their kindness. "They must stay here for the time being.
The books need to be incubated," was the cryptic remark
the booksellers usually got.

Some of us readers, and we are few and far between,
noticed usually at the joints, the elbows and the knees, a tingling -
not uncomfortable - decidedly literary buzz. It was nothing
like arthritis or tennis elbow. I noticed it was like a fly caught
inside my elbow. Someone else told me they had a bumblebee
in their knee. I zoned out to the sound, several minutes later
noticing two pages turned in my book with complete comprehension
of the character I'd been reading who carried a skillet everywhere.
Others reported taking a book down from a shelf, being lulled
by a faint buzzing, returning the book unopened, and understanding
new qualities about characters left impoverished turning into friends.

One morning the bookseller Hearnszy noticed a faint buzzing
as he got ready to open his shop for business. He walked into his
shop, and it was as he said, "like the sweetest sound a fly can make."
That reminds me of the satisfaction of riding my bike on the path,
but back to the story. Hearnszy checked his e-mail. He noticed
he had e-mailed himself. The message said, "Hearnszy, open the front
and back doors of your shop, let a draft through, and the books
will follow." He scratched his elbow. It would be nice to listen
to the sound for a while, but might as well do what the message said.

The first to leave were several early editions of Leaves of Grass.
Several self-help manuals followed. Next a quote a day book
took to the air and snored through the narrow passageways
of Tilted Mind Books out into the wide afternoon. Hearnszy expained,
"The books that took to the air sounded like they were softly snoring
through my shop. None of them seemed to be in a hurry.
I actually read The Song of Occupations while the book took most
of the morning to dally out of my shop."

The state of affairs when I arrived at the marketplace was wonderful.
Half of Hearnszy's shop was emptied. The air was thick with flies
and bumblebees. A handful of books, who had not undergone
the transformation, loitered on the sidewalks at about eye level.
Most people were attracted to the flying insects because as Hearnszy
said, "Their sound was so sweet." The sound of my bicycle tires was
still buzzing through my body in the background. I found a copy
of Song of Myself outside the shoestore. It was an easy jump from
the ride to the cosmic buzzing of Whitman's loafing dance.
I have led several students into the new age.

The key seems to be bicycling up and down the path to get that
background buzzing in your body. The eyes still need to see the print,
but it is merely an object to meditate on - an aesthetically pleasing
one at that. I teach my students to treat their individual bicycle
buzzing as the page. There are mainly two characters in this new
language: the sonorous buzzing of the bumblebee and the ticklish
buzzing of the fly and all their combinations. I tell my students
they are reading unique books because each of their pages is formed
by a slightly different tire rolling round and round.

No comments:

Post a Comment