I imagine that you think I am going to speak about the friend I have had for more than twenty years and with whom I spend most of my time. Or that I am going to speak about a childhood friend with whom I was raised. Or of this office colleague who does not stop inviting me to his house to have a drink.
Well, no. this friend is THE BOOK
Oh yes, it is about my book.
For is there someone or something more honest, more reliable, respectful than a book.
I can confirm this with a word of Amos Oz who said in his way, that with time, books can change at least as well as humans, with this difference that men sooner or later will dump you as soon as they do not find in you a profit, a pleasure, an interest or a feeling, whereas books never let you down.
It remains that like Oz, I grew up surrounded by books, making myself invisible friends in pages that fell into dust and whose odor I still wear in my hands. So when all is black around you, what better than read a book to discover another world and escape everyday life that is too often cruel. And I can add that it is in books that I learned that love like disease can prevent you from eating and sleeping. Just to read what is on the next page can stop all other behaviors.
In fact, what is a book if not an assemblage of printed sheets forming a volume.Yes, there are good books and bad books. There are books of images, grammar, poetry. There is a mass book market as well as a holy books market. If there were no books how would we learn about Shakespeare or Euripides or Neil Simon and their plays?
And yet throughout the ages, books have been burnt for they offended a certain class of individuals. Libraries have banned books based on someone’s individual standard of morality, and the Catholic Index tells what books should not be read, some of which others consider great literature. It was precisely the case of the Talmud, a book of wisdom produced by scholars of the Jewish torah. It becomes the place where we consign information, whether legal or commercial. We do say that what comes from books is a bookish knowledge. Finally, every museum has its golden book, right?
To name Plato, books give a soul to the universe, wings to the spirit, a fly to the imagination and especially a life to all. The Ecclesiastes confirmed that in making many books, there is no end and that too much study is a lassitude of the flesh.
A famous word of our dear Umberto Eco comes to me : a book is like a spoon, scissors, a hammer, a wheel. Once invented, it cannot be improved.
So it is that this book I carry it with me wherever I go, it is faithful and follows me everywhere. I have this odd habit to underline passages I like, to write on the sides my reflections, to circle the word that I don't know, to go later find its meaning .This book at times becomes my confidant, a repository of my own feelings. It retains them and protects them. When all goes bad, the book becomes my emotional outlet.
The book is not jealous . Often, before I finish it, I put it aside and take another and a bit later another one. Yes, I often read more than one book at a time. Sometimes as a function of my mood, I prefer one book over the other, but I respect them all. I come back and do not abandon them. That’s what friends do.
What stays with me, perhaps for many of us, is a childhood memory. My parents would read to me when putting me to bed. I did not understand everything, but just seeing this book in the hands of my parent taught me that books were my friend
You probably think I'm going to tell you about that long-time friend I sometimes think about, or about that young woman I met recently who I really liked and with whom I would have liked to spend a little more time, or maybe about the lady I've been living with for almost twenty years and who spoils me a lot.
None of this. I have only one companion , I call my mate and that is my writing.
She is always there for me. I confide in her. Besides, only she understands me. I don't need to give her so many explanations. She rarely asks me unpleasant questions or reprimands me if I have failed here and there.
How can I not love her?
Yes, I often write because I like it. It is the case to say it, I empty myself by writing and by doing so, I feel better. She is the only one who enjoys what I write and sometimes she congratulates me for using this word, that phrase, that expression. We understand each other and we like that.
It is Democritus who said before me: "It is not worth living if one does not have a good friend" and well for me, my friend is the writing.
The world might laugh at me if I told them that my best companion is the writing. But what does it matter when it comes to my own life? And if I love it, what could be better? I have never been very demanding, being content with little and staying happy that way. It is indeed a pity that people always want more. It seems that we are rarely satisfied with what we have.
I guess life today is like that. We want more because the other has more than us. The other has succeeded by the sweat of his brow, as they say, but this one expects to be given everything, pre-cooked. This is the problem of our society.
A long time ago, I included among my praises writing. I said: I like to recall the words of an Auschwitz survivor, Paul Shaffer, who said that only writing can preserve the memory of the unspeakable and make the message echo beyond the lives of the witnesses. With their disappearance an invaluable source will be betrayed. He also said "What we are able to write remains far below what we are able to say".
And this is what Marco Polo would have said on his deathbed; "I have not written half of what I have seen.
These few notes do indeed add meaning and value and when I reread these words today, I still find them relevant.