Sunday, January 26, 2014

More than Words

Inside Plantin- Moretus Museum- Antwerp
I am addicted to reading. I often marvel at how sensitive all these published writers are and believe that how wise they must be in their private lives since they seem to understand the human emotions so well.

Since young I found solace in words and writing. Our brains tell us how we feel and what we think. When I  can release those thoughts in writing, it is a joy. I cannot write well if I am feeling upset or restless. I need to be calm in order to map out my thoughts. So I reckon these published writers must be very wise and in control of their private lives since they write such beautiful prose. I wonder if they have to confront the same anger or bad or hurt feelings over and over again and I would like to know if they have ever found resolutions about what they experience in their lifetime.

I am currently reading Julian Barnes's memoir Nothing to be Frightened Of. It is a memoir on mortality as he muses about the most basic fact of life: its inevitable extinction. Julian Barnes is one of my favourite writers as I can often relate to what he writes about and many of his musings resonate with me. I find his writing humourous and introspective. I am therefore comforted when I come across Julian Barnes’ observation in his memoir.
 Julian Barnes writes,

" I used to believe, when I was "just" a reader, that writers, because they wrote books where truth was found, because they described the world, because they saw into the human heart, because they grasped both particular and the general and were able to re-create both in free yet structured forms, because they understood, must therefore be more sensitive-also less vain, less selfish -than other people. Then I became a writer, and started meeting other writers, and studied them, and concluded that the only difference between them and other people, the only,single way in which they were better,was that they were better writers. They might indeed be sensitive, perceptive, wise, generalizing ,and particularizing-but only at their desks and in their books. When they venture out into the world, they regularly behave as if they have left all their comprehension of human behaviour in their typescripts. It's not just writers either. How wise are philosophers in their private lives? '

I read more fictions than non-fictions. I know that fiction and life are totally different as life is definitely unpredictable and complex even though art often imitates life and life can also imitate art. What motivate me to read is that the writers share their thoughts and beliefs and their writings cleverly describe the idiosyncrasies  and  ironies of life. It is comforting to know that whatever we feel and go through are experienced by many others and I believe that nothing is really original.

14th century Printing Press
Plantin- Moretus Museum- Antwerp
Julian Barnes wrote in his memoir  that as a young man, he was terrified of flying so he reckoned that the book he would choose to read on a plane would be something he felt appropriate to have found on his corpse. It sounds morose but his deliberations about death and mortality are thought provoking indeed. 

Julian Barnes is definitely a gifted writer.
Burgundy September 2008

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