The Book Says


the book says

all pages are mine


but more than that, the book says

pages take on existence within me


a page outside

is not a page

but a sheet of paper


a sheet of paper does not make a page, nor many pages a decent book


it is what is written, each page, judged as a page…


the content matters


the book says

keep pages tiny, hand-sized,

light but not light-headed,

slightly too large for the average pocket —

or your words and illustrations will not seem serious:

be a nuisance and you will be heard


the book says that binding and pages,

considered as concept, content, object and participant,

are two sides, recto and verso, of one thing,

an eye to the world,

a pulse in the throat,

the subjective and its objective somehow interpenetrating —


what is a spoke without a wheel? what is a broken wheel?


until there were books, continua of pages,

writings were individual, devoid largely of meaning —

a note would come, perhaps from a great prince to a great prince,

but would not be considered, situated as it was on a scrap of paper —


and you may make the paper as you wish!

kill the finest strongest animals you have,

do whatever must be done to their skin

to make it pliable and receptive to and retentive of ink,

make the finest ink of the richest earth,

make the smoothest pens with which to write,

and practice your scribes in the art of writing


but what is a piece of paper to a great prince?


the words of the message are best conveyed by human voice

and so much more easily destroyed —

a tongue is no match for a knife

and will not grow back


for it seems to me that the message written is not the message

but a copy thereof which may be thrown away and even forgotten

but is not destroyed,

whereas the severed tongue will be eaten by vermin,

and the voice with which it spoke is itself a portion of the tongue, you see?

although now it is reduced to grunts by the power of my army –


well, I am peaceful: if due credibility is given to my power in deed as in word,

and reparations paid for my distress in this matter and so on —

make the usual threats


the book says

a prince who is not recorded is not a prince for long

better he learn to cope with books than he eschew them


and we all turn and listen to the book


but what of the binding?


the binding strengthens

it is indispensable, but it lacks a separate existence;


and the writing on the spine, and the book mark,

and the index and the foreword, and the preface —


I am not a thing to be so analysed! a book?

these things are thin reads

without the breath of the book entire


so says the book

as if a little foxed

not quite as cogent as it might be


on another page the book says see how I am arranged


I have my defences

where only those literary marks

which are consonant with my aims and objectives

are allowed to stand — my guards


each page is isolated from the next,

and converses with its fellows through my structures;

thus are they ruled, thus are their lives made sensible


my territory is subdivided and each subdivision will structure itself

according to conventions


if I were to act, for instance, a certain space would be allocated to personae,

those labels we allow the threads which make up the fabric of a plot,

to assert themselves, like roots, in so far as it is necessary —

I have my doubts —

there are more modern and technological approaches


I would rather it were done with colour,

I need a little tone, and some pictures,

than to divide off from my narrative

an element which is a part of me and it

and yet is not.


I cannot measure it.


Directions to the actor, some reader who is not a reader,

a fool who would commit to memory what I have written here available,

are integrated in the words I have;

and yet, the naming of the character itself, the transformational naming,

is constrained, not quite inside, not quite without my jurisdiction,

like some goods in bond

or a rogue upon a diplomatic passport.


I have similar concern as to acknowledgements.

They seem to me like coded messages.

I do not like them.

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