Saturday, January 23, 2010

Wordcentric Predisposition









I do not have any sort of scientific defense for what I am about to declare.
In fact -- I'm sure I could find some corroborating evidence.
But I'm not going to look for it.
I believe that there are some people who have a certain..... hmmm..... shall we say "temperamental framework" or maybe -- "word-centric predisposition"?
Wow.
I kind of like that. Wordcentric Predisposition.
[Notice how I even dropped the hyphen?]
I just "googled" the term and got no hits on it, so there you go.... I'm frigging INVENTING a thing.
In fact, Google will ask you... "Did you mean worldcentric predisposition?"
No.
I meant WORDCENTRIC.

When I was a kid, well, ever since I can remember, words fascinated me. I think that some sort of chemical rush occurred when I first fully registered the exchange of THOUGHT that was a result of my interpreting the words of an author.
For instance, someone a century dead can still speak to me clearer than someone breathing into my ear. Using only second-hand typeface? REMARKABLE!
To so commit oneself to those that shall outlive us. I HEAR you, Mr. Hardy. I hear you. And not only this, I agree with you, I feel the same way!
[Can someone get Steven Pinker in here to elaborate?]

And when I say "chemical" rush, I am not exaggerating.
I discovered books. It's like some sort of previously unused enzyme suddenly enervated my synapses in that moment. Convincing me, [with heroin-like urgency] -- that becoming more fully human would involve ever increasing dosages.

In Grade 2, I was already reading on such a constant basis, that my teacher [Mrs. Okrainetz...... she had a real B-52's-style bouffant hairdo] told my mother in a parent-teacher meeting, "I do not believe your child reads as many books as he claims to read."
As far back as then, I meticulously recorded every book I read. And I presented this Atrocious List to my teacher, as though it were some kind of extra-curricular assignment.

Why did I read like this?
Why did I carry books from the Library, by the armload.... and sit and read them while other kids played outside?
Because I was born [yes....... BORN] with some kind of wordcentric predisposition.
I am the only one in my family, so afflicted.
I'm convinced that if I were born in Neanderthal times, and a big elephant-type thing were to run past our.... cave-hole..... I would have been the one to point and say, "Mastodon."

Is such a thing a blessing or a curse.
I don't know. Depends entirely upon who answers the question.
It's just...... what it is.
It's something I cannot deny, because to do so, would be to deny my very being.
My best friend is a person who, when we walk through a bookstore with our Starbucks coffees steaming, says things like, "Wow. Look at all the shit people write!"
He has about as much use for the latest Ian McEwan novel as I have for....... a garden weasel!
Does my predisposition make me better than him?
No.
It's just that.... were each of us condemned to stare at a wall for the rest of our days, he would immediately want to kill himself.
Me?
My suicide plans would hinge upon whether or not a replenished supply of books was available.
Which is to say -- both of us would be dependent.
But on very different things.

********

5 comments:

Alyce said...

I completely understand (and I am the only person in my family that is crazy for reading too). When I was little and would ask for books for Christmas my family didn't actually believe that was what I wanted for a very long time.

And I get a huge rush from walking through bookstores, especially large stores like Powell's in Portland, OR. I'm like a kid in a candy store.

Jeane said...

I was the child who literally carried armloads of books out of the library, and preferred to sit and read while others played, too.

cipriano said...

Hah!
I'm not alone in this!
I knew it!
There are others out there, Alyce and Jeane among them... irretrievably BOOK-ADDICTED from birth!

Stefanie said...

You are definitely not alone. When I was a kid my mom always complained that I spent all of my allowance and birthday/Christmas/gift money on books. She still complains about it and when she sends a check for my birthday she will write in the card "don't buy books with this." of course I buy books with it, I just don't tell her that :)

Erin in Boston said...

You are so totally not alone! My first rush came with the Lloyd Alexander series that my sister lent me - and voila! a fantasy addict was born! I too came back from the library with armloads, AND did the summer reading competitions to see who could read the most the library sponsored. My classmates used to make fun of me because I always used big words. It came from reading (ok, and from hanging around only adults. I related better to them than my classmates. Go figure.) I too, am the only one in my family so addicted. The others read, but could take it or leave it. NOT ME.