Thursday, June 07, 2007

It's all about love

I'm awake and going through my usual morning ritual: bathroom, food, email, and writing. I decided to make a post and had something else in mind to write (and I may still get there), but I cruised over to Amazon to see what selections they offer me this morning for my time and button clicking pleasure. I found The Things that Matter by Edward Mendelson and read the synopsis. "In the chapter "Birth," for example, Mendelson demonstrates that Frankenstein is pervaded by fears of abandonment and death."

I've read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and, although fear of abandonment and death are major themes, there are also the themes of love and keeping love at all costs, which, I guess, would also be about abandonment and death, except I see it more as retaining and prolonging happiness and love. At times, love has the birth cycle of a Mayfly, much like the attention span of someone with a bad case of ADD (attention deficit disorder). Other times it is more like a joke I heard years ago about an Aquarian scientist who was as likely to give his wife a bag of salty, fresh roasted peanuts (her favorite) for their anniversary or her birthday or a ruby necklace because he was thinking about her that day, illustrating a love that is both thoughtful and at times absent-minded when focused on something fascinating, and yet still remains fresh and strong with a memory for little details that pop up at odd moments. The scientist remembered her favorite food and the important days, but he also remembered an offhand wishful and wistful comment when they passed a jewelry store months (or more likely, years) before.

Frankenstein wants to keep those he loves around him, protect them from death and from the destruction of the peace and harmony of their little world. He wants love and happiness to last forever, never changing, always closeand, like the little girl whose fortuitous Christmas turkey wishbone wish gave her Christmas every day, creates sadness and horror instead. It isn't that love and happiness don't last forever, but they, like the ocean under the moon's influence, ebb and flow, sometimes stronger and sometimes, like the Aquarian scientist, there but not there. It isn't Frankenstein's fear and abandonment, aptly illustrated by the monster's rampaging when he is driven out over and over because of the horror of his face and form, that so deftly and pervasively provide the warp and weft of the story, but love: Frankenstein's love for his family and Elizabeth and the monster's quest and cell-deep need for love (father's love, family's love, community's love, and a mate's love). At the end of the tale, when Frankenstein's strength and body fail him and he dies, the monster gently takes his father in his arms and carries him out into the eternal frozen landscape to be forever together to be mourned and loved and remembered.

The monster will never die; Frankenstein defeated death, but in the end Frankenstein and his monster are defeated by love: the monster's love for his father and Frankenstein's love for his family and Elizabeth. The monster becomes the embodiment of requited and unrequited love, a monument to the lengths to which we all go to find and preserve, unchanging, love. And there are many kinds of love, which brings me back to what I wanted to write in the first place: love, specifically the love of books and the lengths to which I go to have and hold books.

I don't just want to have and hold them, I want to read them, some of them over and over, and at times I resent having to work because work demands time, time I could spend reading so many books (and there is so little time).

I spend money on books and never regret it, at least not like I regret spending money on clothes or office supplies (both of which are necessary but not unavoidable) or even food at times. Going out to eat is a luxury and one that I happily forego to buy books or cheap food so I can buy more books. I spend a lot of time at Amazon, Hamilton Books, Powell's, Alibris, second-hand bookstores, Barnes & Noble, etc., and a few dollars (I usually buy second-hand books, which make it possible to buy even more books). I found something better. I found book_swapping and after only one day I have traded review books for books I have always wanted or have recently decided to read. Yes, I can get these books at the library, but long waits and having to return them eventually (and usually, with my schedule, all too quickly) make getting books from the library problematic. Add to that my local library is closed for the next five months and I am forced to schedule my browses on Tuesday and Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the cramped and often crowded confines of the book mobile and you see my problem. Or maybe you don't. You don't have the desire to hold and caress and read and sleep with books as I do.

book_swapping caught my eye when I signed onto LiveJournal a few days ago and I knew its siren's call would lure me eventually. I was strong and held out for two whole days before I succumbed and followed the link to a wealth of books and people who love books and books I wanted and books I could trade and books, books, and more books. I have some packages to send today because I have made several successful trades. No more bookmobile. No more time limits on caressing and holding and reading. (Okay, so I'll still have to go to the bookmobile since the other people in the community don't quite have everything I want or need to read, but it's an alternative, and a good one.)

Check it out. If you have books you can bear to part with (many of my review books fall into that category), then you have something to trade for a book or books you've been eyeing. Do a little canny trading. It's worth the effort. After all, there is no truer love than the love of books, something I'm about to teach my grandson, Jordan, who will get a package of special books on his birthday next month.

Spread the love. It is all about love after all.

That is all. Disperse.

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