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The Book as a Sensuous Object

Like most of us, I cannot remember when I first saw a book.

Nevertheless, I believe that the impression made by that first encounter was as profound as any of my first meetings with the sensuous world.

That meeting was wrapped first in the circumstances of the moment and all that was conveyed by it beyond what was spoken when my mother said: "John, this is a book."

And second it was been captured early in my own repertoire of sensuous experiences to physical objects where it took its place: its color, its tactile qualities, its smell, perhaps even its taste, its weight and shape, its mechanical opening to reveal the mysterious beauty of the shapes of pictures and letters, and its quiet closing to conceal.

Now in the sense world of my interior it hovers like a mist over other responses associated with my profession.

It is safe to say that you, like me, first encountered a book as the solitary listener, an audience of ONE: Someone read a story to us.

What a mystery! Imagine: the child's greatest "significant other" by voice, light, touch reveals another world, brought to life by the reading of the words on the page. In fact, we, like Alice, a long time ago, stepped through the mirror of the wardrobe into another dimension.

When we were infants, we lived in the world of sound pictures by which we shared stories of the larger world. When we matured to engage the mystery of writing and remembering through words and verbal pictures, we brought with us the latent memory of that first sensuous encounter with the book—now either disguised or hidden from our view, but nonetheless there.

Our most basic memory is filled with sensuous experiences, the mysterious world of the pages opens to your imagination—and you hold it in your hands!.

Now I ask you, how could you curl up with a floppy disc? and for that matter who would want to?
©1999 by John Lawrence Sharpe.

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