The blurred edge of literature (or: trees make books make trees)

How’s that for a thing? In case your Spanish isn’t amazing (and mine is quite patchy at best), here’s a link to an article which explains a little more about that video. It is a book which, once read, can be planted and thus grow back into a tree. It’s a circle of existence; text as object, text as reading experience, text as catalyst and creator for further texts. The reading/making/reading cycle is one that is quite literally propagated and managed by the act of reading, of interaction with a text.

I find that so very exciting. It’s a project which starts to push at the edges of literature; at that moment where the book touches the real world space and somebody has to decide how to handle it. And that’s something we do everyday, it’s something we’re trained to do from birth: read the black text not the white space; the full stop means the end of the sentence, a capital letter means the start, a book holds a story that you start and then finish, etc, etc.

We understand how to handle that because there are rules. But – projects like this, and my PhD, make me ache for those moment that exist on the edge of literature. Those moments when you have to decide how you react to literature. Those moments when you have to decide – what are you in relation to this thing?

And we know how to do that when we have books because we know what they are.

But how do we react to books that spill out of their bookish space and become something quite new?

How do we react to a live reading of The Mozart Question by Micheal Morpurgo? (For clarity: I attended this recently and am provoked of thought as a result) How do you situate yourself in response to a text that is being given to you in the surroundings of York Minster, performed orally and musically by a range of incredibly gifted musicians? How do you situate yourself in response to a text that isn’t a text but more of an experience? How do you – handle – that as a reader? Are you still reading a book when it’s performed? Or – are you in the book? (And if you are, which I rather think you are, then who are you in that text? Where are you? Are you even you any more?)

Maybe – this is is something we need to think about a little more. Maybe this is something we need to start thinking about in our libraries and our bookish encounters with friends and families. Maybe we need to have quotes from books chalked onto brick walls, or cut into the long grass at the side of the motorway. Maybe we need to have live readings – public readings – flashmobs of readings. Maybe – just maybe – it’s time for us to let the texts that break and make us out into the wild.

Maybe it’s time for us to let the books make trees and for those trees to stand in our worlds, next to banks and shops and carparks, and for them to just – exist. Just to be there. Just to be part of the world, not book-bound nor shelf-bound, but – just – there.

Maybe it’s time for the world to become bookish.

Maybe it’s time for us to revel in that blurred edge

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