On Turning Left

Donna NobleIt’s been an interesting week. My research may need to change tack quite substantially and so that is a lot to come to terms with. Pauses and stops and halts and the realisation that maybe turning left instead of right will be – something different and maybe something better. Maybe. I hope so, at least. I love what I do, and now is the time to figure out how best to shape that something. An intangible challenge; and yet, an odd relief to face it head on. The difficulties of decision. The release of decision, of definition

And as I think about these things, about pulling my own Donna Noble and deciding which way my car will go at the junction, I think about literature and the lines that guide us from book to book. My research is so very centred on space and the idea of mapping; the points of connection between the fictional and the real, and when you start to see them in one space, you see them everywhere.

The world of literature is full of connections, of lines that pull us to and from literature and on a route from book to space to site to book. Think about lines; the use of lines in a bookshop or a library. Think of shelves, really, and the direction of them. The enticement of shelves and shelving, the psychological reading of space and the teasing promise of something delicious around the corner, further in.

We read books before we see them, that much is a given, but we read space like that as well; I walk into a library and I am home, I know how to navigate that world, I know how to master it. I know its symbols, I know its signs. When we read, we read within a space that we know, we know how to handle it, how to be within that space. We know, perhaps, that when it gets too much we can close the book and step away. We know that this will start, this will stop, that books are here for us to pick up and choose and touch and look at.

shelvesImagine the static library, imagine that for a moment, the horror of a still and static space that does not breathe, does not live. That does not long for that presence of the other, that does not even want that other there, spoiling, ruining.

Literature, libraries, landscape; they need people, they need to be read and they need to live; they are half-texts without that, they are readless, restless beasts.

And so, I turn left; I turn, I trail my hands along the shelves, and I read E Nesbit and Elinor M. Brent-Dyer and Angela Brazil, and I touch ornate spines and wallow in lavish front covers and exultant design, and lines, everywhere, enticements, encouragements, and I turn, I turn, and I keep walking. I keep reading.

Because, I do not think I can stop; readers do not stop, literature does not stop, and I do not want it to live without me, I am in the library and I am stood on the kickstool and I am reaching for the book on the shelf, just to the left of where I would normally look, just to the left.


2 thoughts on “On Turning Left

  1. I really liked this post. It struck a chord. Just when I think I’ve done all the “left turns” in my life I come to another junction…

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