Note by the Man I Might Have Been

I’ve been working on a book for about a year now. More correctly, I have been working on a volume in a collection of books. I always have a volume or two in progress, but this one has had a peculiar focus for me. The volume itself is a luxurious, oversized and leather bound book, with hand marbled paper on the cover, and handmade Amalfi paper, slightly off white with a beautiful laid surface that holds both watercolor and ink nicely. The ink never crawls, and there is no bleed through, even when I work the sheets heavily. The pages are entirely hand written, and hand illustrated. Although early volumes of this project were fairly standard journals – accounts of my day to day life. This latest one is a little different. I remember reading an essay by Camus where he discussed the process of writing. “Everything as it comes!” he said. I started writing with that impulse, writing every thought I could capture, no matter how stupid or insignificant it seemed at the time. This new book has some of that. I have several titles for it. One is “Mind at Work, Mind at Play” and that describes the shifts between free writing and more structured things. One of the other titles is “Notes By the Man I Might Have Been” which are elements written like entries in a normal journal, but as if written by myself on a different time line. They are fanciful, and definitely fiction, a fun way to see what alternative choices in my life might have gained or lost me. Would I have been happier had I married that woman? Would I have been better off had I accepted a record deal with Taang? What if I had become a witch, or followed a different path altogether? What if I’d never gone to Germany? Some of these questions are addressed in a journal written by a very different me. Is it profound in any way? I doubt it. Are there valuable thoughts in it? Some. Does it attempt to teach or even reach deep truths? No. Is if fun to work on? Absolutely! And I find it fun to leaf through. This is not a book to be read and explicated, so much as it is an attempt, simply, to share thoughts. Thoughts are nebulous, confusing, sometimes ugly, sometimes beautiful. Sometimes they engender trust, sometimes they are full of lies, sometimes they are patterned but just as often they are chaotic. Some of the stories are funny. Some are tragic, or very very sad. Some are even truthful, insofar as distant memory can be truthful.
I’ve been telling people lately that the book is a playground at its essence. I go there to play games with myself. My hope is that some people in leafing through my book will find it entertaining. What do I want the book to do? Well I certainly hope that it will entertain. Some people may like the paintings. Some may find the writing interesting. Hopefully, some will find the exercise interesting enough that they will create their own! I’d love to see thousands of these kinds of books made in the next century, some on paper, some digital, some in formats and media that hasn’t been dreamed up yet. But at base, people sharing thoughts. My particular format has been the book – old style is what the kids say about me. I like the look and the feel of a book, particularly ones like this one that are well made. I love to leaf through volumes, looking at thoughts that others have left there for me. I also love how much a book can change with its setting. It appears one way in daylight, a different way in flourescent light, different still by candlelight. Surround it with gold and ornaments and it can set a spiritual tone. Put it plain on the grass in a meadow and it becomes something altogether different. Thoughts are absorbed as they are read, like somebody eating a light snack. Pop it in, swallow it down, digest what is of worth, shit out the rest.

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