Monday, April 24, 2006

It's all about the timing. (literature).

"Love is all a matter of timing," says Chow Mo-Wan in the movie 2046, "it's no good meeting the right person too soon or too late." I'm not sure which woman he is referring to, Su Li Zhen (Maggie Cheung, from the previous movie, In the Mood for Love), the second Su Li Zhen (Gong Li), or Bai Ling (Zhang Ziyi). Maybe he meant all of them, that they were all the right woman at the wrong time.

Books are like people. You have to find them at the right time to love them. Almost every single book (or writer) that I have loved, I had previously disliked, or ignored. For some writers, when I discovered them, I was at the time distracted by another writer. Some time had to pass before I could return and be enthralled by them in turn. Sometimes I was just too young to appreciate or understand. Maybe you have to be at the right point in your life to catch hold of a certain way of thinking, of expressing thoughts and emotions in a way that you couldn't before. Maybe it is another writer that leads you back to the first one, the way Bukowski led me back to Ferlinghetti, or Eco back to Borges.

But unlike people, you can always return to books. They will always be waiting for you in their shelves, across time and space, waiting for the moment when you will come back, pick them up, lose yourself in their pages. Not like people, with whom there are rarely second chances. Who move on, and then the moment slips by and is lost forever. Literature is eternal, the chances for love endless. I think this is what I love most about literature, this mysterious garden of forking paths, that circle around and intersect with themselves unto infinity. Each book a different path that leads to the next, and then if you do not love it then, you move on until a chance leads you back to your beginning. But something has changed you, and you are once again open to the work in a way you hadn't been before, open to the mysterious ways of love and life and perhaps a new way of thinking...

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