It is strange that She should have picked me up today after, first, so many years on her shelves, and more recently, on the seat next to the toilet. She bought me, perhaps, four or five years ago, recommended, if I remember correctly by a teacher or mentor, along with a series of proposed readings. I was lumped together with 9 or 10 other books and unceremoniously carted off to the country where She lives. There, I remember Her briefly leafing through my pages one day, pausing perhaps on page 11 or 23 and reading briefly, closing me rather abruptly and placing me on the shelf where I have remained ever since, being removed and jostled only when the domestic assistant (they are no longer called maids or cleaning ladies) dusted the shelf where I wait patiently to be rediscovered.
Recently, She herself removed me, along with about 120 other books that were destined, I soon observed, to be given away and probably bartered for pennies in some Christmas bazaar. We were of no interest. It was very discouraging and I felt disappointed that She hadn’t even given me a fair chance to seduce her. But something happened, a miracle. After she had placed me on the pile of books to be boxed and discarded –because that is what it is equivalent to when you haven’t even been read, a frank and open rejection, not pleasant at all- Her gaze fell once more on the delicate blue-green-grayish colors of my jacket and She separated me, placed me on a smaller pile, and carried us together into the bathroom. It was strange to find myself on a white stool, mixed in with books that had nothing to do with my subject matter and constantly humidified by the hot showers She took every morning. I got to watch Her undress, dress, make-up, take Her daily vitamins, brush Her teeth, do all those curious things that books never get to see because they are seldom in the bathroom… until today, when -well, I will be delicate in agreement with my subject matter and colors- when she picked me up and opened the first page, the introduction. It was the miracle, yes, I could feel it in her anticipation as she read words and murmured out loud: ‘exactly what I have been writing about, the life and vibrancy of objects…’ and took me carefully out of the pile and into Her study and placed me, just imagine!, on Her very desk.
Humans are tuned for relationship. The eyes, the skin, the tongue, ears, and nostrils- all are gates where our body receives the nourishment of otherness. This landscape of shadowed voices, these feathered bodies and antlers and tumbling streams –these breathing shapes (…); humans have negotiated relationships with every aspect of the sensuous surroundings, exchanging possibilities with every flapping form, with each textured surface and shivering entity that we happened to focus upon. All could speak, articulating in gesture and whistle and sigh a shifting web of meanings that we felt on our skin or inhaled through our nostrils or focused with our listening ears, and to which we replied (…) Every sound was a voice, every scrape or blunder was a meeting –with Thunder, with Oak, with Dragonfly…
… with Book, don’t forget Book… yes! And it was today I spoke to Her, today as She was still filled with the experience of writing with the voice of Her White Eye-Liner Pencil, such a silly object and yet so providential for me. It was with these words, “Thunder”, “Oak”, “Dragonfly” that She heard the call of my Inner Voice. The simple premise of this book is that we are human only in contact, and conviviality, with what is not human. There, it has been said. I was forceful and She listened. Now I have a chore before me, now I must capture Her attention, I must feed Her imagination, I must sing to Her Secret Soul, I must connect with the living dream that we share with the soaring hawk, the spider, and the stone silently sprouting lichens on its coarse surface.
Oh, glorious day; I have been taken from the house, placed in Her handbag and allowed to accompany Her to lunch. I have lain on the table where She ate, I have been splattered with grease from the lamb chops and imbued with the aroma of gazpacho. She has underlined me, not once, not twice, but three times! I have stretched my pages, made every effort to lie flat so She could read while handling the fork with Her right hand, She has specially liked the words “attentiveness to nonhuman nature (…) a reverence for those forms that awareness takes when it is not in human form…”, attentiveness, in other words, to my very form, this apparently innate paper, this apparently dry and lifeless ink, this apparently silent voice crying out in still, more than still, words. Was it because of me that she forgot her wallet, more attentive to putting my bulk in the bag than that of her money purse? Would it be presumptuous of me to want to believe that? No matter, I have lunched with her; I have been one hundred times preferred to the television where someone who calls herself “Chakira” went through contortions and squealings that would have shamed a pig under the axe.
Home and lying in Her lap as the pages respond to her fingers, I watch the miracles happen. Already what She is reading is heightening her senses. The phone rings, her eyes flit to the number on the small screen; it is unknown. She picks up the receiver and an unknown male voice asks a question; Her ear immediately identifies a Taurus. She wonders how She knows that, but there is certainty in her thought. She is comfortable with the voice over the machine, the unseen presence that has entered the room, the faltering at first, and then pleasantly surprised questions posed by the Taurus-voiced man. She is completely at ease and I know it is because She has just read (and underlined) the intelligence that lurks in nonhuman nature, the ability that an alien form of sentience has to echo one’s own, to instill a reverberation in oneself that temporarily shatters habitual ways of seeing and feeling, leaving one open to a world all alive, awake, and aware… so She knows that this disembodied voice is just such a visitation and Her words flow with a naturalness that must seem strange to the stranger on the other end of the line (there is another end to this voice, can we be absolutely certain of that?) as he opens and engages in a conversation he would have had trouble entering even with a therapist on the first or second visit. I know She has entered the magic dimension that my thread of speech refers to from the very beginning, the magic dimension that joins all existence, much as the spider web joins its individual threads in a dance of joy, of life and death and life.
I don’t know how long I will hold this special place in Her attention, we never do we Books. We are not of our own making and yet it is, ultimately, our responsibility to capture our readers and keep them with us till the end. Sometimes we can, sometimes we can’t: it isn’t personal. I did not choose the words that compose my being, nor their order or their meaning: I but present them to others to either be held or discarded, to be liked or rejected; as I said: it is not personal; it has nothing at all to do with me. I am perfect in my being, and I will continue to go from this place to that, from this ownership to another, from this hand to that table until time itself sees fit to undo my corporal being and I once again become the dust and essence, the dust and mist and magic that brought me forth in the first place.