Sunday, January 16, 2011

So I just got a book that I've been hunting for over ten years now. I first heard about it at an obscure art gallery in LA. The artist of the hour was giving a talk about his influences, and threw up some examples. I was struck dumb with sheer wonder at what I saw. It made me feel like a kid again, imagining what might be out there in the wide world for the first time. I needed more of it, and the next day set out to find it. I failed. Apparently the artist was not what you would call a capitalist. He had done a short printing run on all his books, and wasn't interested in doing a reprint. As a result, collectors hoarded their copies, and due to some weird loyalty to the work and the wishes of the artist, no one put his stuff up on the internet. Here I was with just three examples of his work, completely mesmerized, and no way to get more. I imagine that this is a bit of how junkies feel.

I decided not to give up. For the last ten years I've treated every used book store I come across as an opportunity for a treasure hunt. I search the disorganized stacks and feel like an explorer of old. Sometimes I'm a prospector trudging around in California, and others I feel like Nemo gliding through the deeps. Then, three weeks ago I found it. I found the book and delightedly took it home to learn it's secrets, to gaze upon art that hasn't been seen (at least not by me) before. I broke half a dozen traffic laws on the way home, ran inside, opened up the first page...

And went numb. The book is everything I hoped. It's filled with some of the most exacting freehand artwork I've ever come across, and the stories are wonderfully pulpy in that age of wonder kind of way. Sure there are shortcomings, but they are the kind of flaws that quickly become endearing. They are a part of the charm of the book, and as I turned past page one, I found myself searching for more. I realized that this book was one of those wondrous tomes that does what only a great book can, it was food for some small malnourished part of my soul. Something that I hadn't even realized was hungry.

I've had it for two weeks now, and I still haven't gotten past page four.

It's too good. I find that I want to savor the feast, make each moment of discovery last as long as possible. With each new revelation, I find new insight into what has come before, which leads to new anticipations. Every night as I get into bed I look at that book sitting on my nightstand and debate whether it's time to move on. To turn a page. I know that there will be nights where turning a page will take but a moment, but I know that turning others might take me a week. I'm okay with that. I looked for ten years, I can read for another ten if that's what feels right.

I say all of this to describe another process of discovery that I'm currently going through. With each new facet, with each new kernel of truth I glean, I'm finding myself pulled deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole. I like this plunge, I love the feeling of anticipation as I stand on a precipice, I love the imagination that runs roughshod over my sensibilities. This is what life is supposed to be, and I've never been more excited about simply being awake.

In fact, it just might be time to turn another page...

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