There is a specific kind of reading, one I now associate with childhood, the kind of reading where you stay up all night–damn the consequences–to finish the book.
It’s a childish kind of reading because it demands that you hand yourself over–mind, body, and soul–to the book. As we get older, and more educated, it becomes harder to turn off that constant thread of analysis and aloofness that comes with experience. What isn’t real, isn’t real, and in being constructed has the elusive meaning that high school was dedicated to teaching us to reveal.
The imagery is not there for the picture it paints or the feeling it evokes, but for some occult, Freudian reason, some deeper value is hidden between the shapes of the words.
I read all night and I finished The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Intellectually, I’m not sure I liked it. It felt simplistic, I didn’t come to.know anything any differently than I had known it at the beginning of the novel. However, I cried, non-stop, for the last 70 pages. Yes, I felt emotionally manipulated, but I decided it didn’t matter. That tonight I would give myself over to it like Robin Hood or Harry Potter and read, as if starved for the written word, and laugh and cry as merited by the fiction.
And, yes, I’d probably go back and give it a second read. I’d like to unpack the ideas of fiction and creation and value presented. Because I already know that there are hurts and heartbreaks worth having in this world. I cried, didn’t I?
There is something about the expected and unexpected heartbreaks of fiction… They are more bearable, because no one really sufferred, it is not like the car bombs and the riots and the famines in the newspaper, where the hurt is too real. But neither does ficion carry the distance and detachment of the news story; we have lived with and accompanied these characters over distances untold, we have breathed with them and loved them and always, we must part with them. And so we cry and mourn in a way that the newspaper never calls for.
But is it not practice? Practice in empathy, practice inloving someone else and truly knowing them? Is it not practice in learning to let loved ones go? We are forever in the position of saying farewell to those that mean the most to us. It is the nature of the human condition, a conditon sadly limited by a linear temporal.configuration and sad finality.
I suppose we end up with an answer to the nature of art: fear not, you are not alone. Fear not, for you are loved.