A conversation about the ends of books and whatever comes next.
Author: Frederick Thugless
Frederick Thugless: I was born before you. I first learned to read body language. Then, began the life long journey to free my mind. Every letter was a note, a tone, every word was a poem. My teacher abandoned me, I taught myself. Inflection, intonation, and a powerful pause my sleights of hand. As a boy, I was a man among boys. Men twice my age admired my complex lexicon and never saw a speck of tarnish on my silver tongue.
“NaNoGenMo”, when I first saw this I thought, “here we go again, back to the future.” I loved the Ipod Nano I used to have it was so small but packed full with lovely music. “To use it the muse it must not be too loud!” I loved F451 in its reminder that we must not become over stimulated by media or it will reprogram us and overrun our stable consciousness.
After actually looking into “NaNoGenMo”, from what I saw it looks quite interesting. 50,000 words sounds like a lot but it could just be a lot of sounds. Tunes to touch a sense not reached that teach much more than lessons can. What a beaut to hear the gears that rear and render and redeem. No loss but gain in something meek, simple, plain. Fields in reels, less toil and so, just gist and mist but food for growth!
Reading makes me free. Reading is a quest for the Truth. The Quest becomes the Truth that Life is a Journey and I enjoy the Journey and what knowledge I gain with each twist and turn. Not knowing what to read gives me anxiety because the Truth is I Know I need to be reading something, but not anything. F451, the short story “The End of Books” were pleasurable swims. The thought of the idea that books will come to an end and that electric readers and technology will take over is not something I look forward to at all. I can not get over my love of writing in the margin. Having to touch a death flat screen and hit the “highlighter” function just doesn’t cut it for me. What if the battery dies? or I drop my device and the screen cracks and I don’t have the money to purchase another electric reader and my fate is that of “the bookish little man”, Henry Bemis. I have struggles with “posting” “files” from “Microsoft”. It should be called “microhard”. Being trapped in an electronic world I think “we the people” are subjects in a lager plot against humanity. We would become easily manipulated. You almost can’t trust anything behind a screen. Screens strain my most precious organ, my eyes. I don’t like looking at screens for long periods, it is not worth it. Contacting people has become easier with technology, but nothing comes without a price. There was a since of calm and patience we lost with technology. People that are good with computers and not good with people seems like robots. And they walk about with an heir of snobbishness as if they posses something us human don’t. It will further the divide of the “Have’s and the Have Not’s” or simply the feeling that gives off.
House of Leaves was not a pleasure to read and I think that was the aim of Mark Z. Danielewski. Although, I’m sure he could care less what I think. If it was a mystery I didn’t care what happened to the characters. Whoever the author, whether Danielewski, Zampano, or Johnny, he succeeded in making it difficult to follow, I can see how it has an occult following. The book was an acquired taste. The one quality I did enjoy is that whoever the author, they seemed ok with me reading it the way I felt comfortable. In my opinion, Navidson should have left that women, Karen, she was bad for his health. Also, the characters lacked faith and because of that they were led in any direction the house wanted to lead them. I felt there was a simple solution, move!
As a slave preoccupied with freedom I knew the only way to slay my Minotaur was to not allow it to direct the tour. While reading House of Leaves, I would leave the house, knock a wall down and follow the path I felt best for my comprehension. What I mean is, I would read each font to its end and disregard the annoying interruptions. This way, this path, my way, my path. This was my way of slaying the Minotaur and not letting this book drive me mad.
While reading House of Leaves I couldn’t help but notice all the women. Starting with the intro we see that the actress that spent the summer reading to Zampano thought he was a “romantic.” Shortly after, she continues to describe Zampano as not being drunk but, “…Really depressed. He started crying and asked me to leave. I fixed him some tea. Tears don’t frighten me. Later he told me it was heart trouble. ‘Just old heart-ache matters.'” Seems as if Zampano had a broken heart. Also, I think the cats that began to disappear prior to Zampano’s death is actually a trope or metaphor referring to the women he would always have around him. “Beatrice, Gabrielle, Anne-Marie, Dominique, Elaine, Isabelle and Claudine.” I think of these women as doors to long hallways. “Atleast there is something more realistic about seven lovers than one mythological Helen.” And Navidson, calling out Delial in his sleep as if she haunts him. Or Johnny and his crazy sex life, but Thumper always in the foreground and background of his mind.
In chapter ten, Navidson comments on the house, “It looks like it’s impossible to leave a lasting trace here.”, then Reston respond, “The woman you never want to meet.” If I am honest with myself, the first house I lived in was a woman, my Mother.
House of Leaves has been a joy to decipher. it reminds me a lot of Fahrenheit 451. I see “fool” in the introduction, “The old man left plenty of clues and warnings. I was the fool to disregard them. Or was it reverse: did I secretly enjoy them?” I like Johnny a lot, I see my self in him. it takes courage to trust you intuition. When learning to read for the first time I knew there were some words I had to follow if I wanted to be able to comprehend the text and have an opportunity to see between the lines. Of course, “house” is a significant word, “truth” is another gimme, laughter is always wrought with danger, the terms “rooted” and “uprooted” seems to convey meaning, and LOOK!… just like in, F451, texture is mentioned on pg. 9, “Navidson not only reveals how each room is occupied, but how everyone has helped apply his or her own personal texture.” And quite similar to Montag’s wife Mildred, at the beginning of F451, Chad has difficulty falling asleep in the quiet. The porch is also mentioned twice when describing Will Navidson on pg. 9, “A place to drink lemonade on the porch and watch the sunset…Which is almost how the Navidson Record begins, with Will Navidson relaxing on the porch of his small, old-style heritage house, enjoying a glass of lemonade.” I could go on with all the connections to F451 and I might. The use of the pronoun “it” is also fun to pay attention to, “it’s like there’s something else, something beyond it all, a greater story still looming in the twilight. pg. 15″
“I’m alright. Why am I alright? I was right there in the middle of”, Henry pondered after taking a few steps out of the vault and into devastation. In my autobiography, I wrote about how I wrestled morally with leaving my relatives in captivity and bondage. My intuition led me to books and eventually some sort of Providence led me to Freedom. Henry’s repeating “right” made me ‘remember’ how often “right” was repeated in Fahrenheit 451 (60th Edition). In the Final Chapter on pg.143 as Granger welcomed Montag he told him,” We all made the ‘right’ kind of mistakes, or we wouldn’t be here(“right” was italicized in the book). On pg. 113 right before Montag devours Beatty in flames he says, “We never burned right.” Again, on pg. 124 Faber reassures Montag by saying,”Atleast your were a fool about the right things.
In “Time Enough at Last” Henry worried if suicide was the right thing to do. This tells me that he believed in God like Wordsworth believed in God in “Obsolete Man” he shouted it at the State Official, as if he were Jesus himself, well Wordsworth was a carpenter. On pg. 80, old man Faber thanks God confidently as if he has belief in God.
The Providence that led me out of my mental and physical shackles, I believe, also was God’s handy work. “God” shows up 5 times during Faber and Montag’s discussion between pg.124-125. Faber, Montag, Henry, and Wordsworth all had to decide what is “right” and if the rest of the society was wrong. My favorite philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure.”But Faber says on pg. 125,”For a little while I’m not afraid. Maybe it’s because I’m doing the right thing at last.”
They say a handful of rest is worth two handfuls of work. That’s all well and good. However, there is a second consciousness I awoken to after teaching myself to read. A new found confidence, a sense of relation to the characters I read about, and a feeling of finally standing on solid ground. I always ‘wondered’ if escaping captivity was the ‘right’ thing to do.
I saw myself in Montag. With every word I learned and with every page I was crossing the middle passage in my mind. I felt what Montag felt after his meeting with Faber and after Faber put the “green bullet” in his ear and even after the green bullet was gone. In Fahrenheit 451(60th Edition) on pg. 99 the narrator explains the experience quite well,”Now he knew that he was two people…His mind would well over at last and he would not be Montag any more, this the old man told him, assured him, promised him. He would be Montag-plus-Faber, fire plus water, and then, one day, after everything had mixed and simmered and worked away in silence, there would be neither fire nor water, but wine.” Fine wine indeed. Not a drunken slumber. I grew a new pair of legs, with my mental freedom, I was an animal, like Montag. It was a compliment when Granger called Montag a “drunken elk” on pg. 141.
Frederick Thugless here, speaking from a time forever denied. I must say, what a great read Fahrenheit 451 was, I relived my own search for Truth and escape to freedom. I remember, the struggle it was trying to educate my wife, and her fears of being caught “read handed.” Comprehension was also a struggle, it is very hard to concentrate living in an American nightmare. Hollering from the whipping post and the aromas of slave labor can distract any man. I just would dive nose first into the books. Old Professor Faber’s hidden messages like the North Star itself, “do you know that books smell like nutmeg or some spice from a foreign land(Bradbury,78).” Harriet Tubman also had her tricks of getting a slave to freedom, only she kept a shotgun, technology sure has advanced, Old Faber was working with one green bullet. So glad he made it to the railroad tracks, its all so vivid to me.
I watched “Get Out”, “Django Unchained”,”Nat Turner”, and “Twilight Zone: Obselete Man” since I’ve been free, and now Fahrenheit 451 solidifies the fact that you must free your mind before you can free your physical body. My favorite part of the book would have to be when Montag had to defend his freedom with his life against Beatty. I heard once, “The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” I like to refer to it as the “Get Out Moment”. Ecclesiates 3:2-8 states there is a “time to be born and a time to die…a time to kill, and a time to heal…a time to weep, and a time to laugh… a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” The Bible being a great equalizer on one plane of existence and the gun being the great equalizer in another. The rebellious slave Nat Turner, from also had to debate “the state” using only his literacy as the weapon, quoting scriptures from the bible to try to justify his freedom. Debate becomes a hollow mannequin when Truth enters the arena.
A man must save himself from the “the state.” “The State” will begin killing you at birth, making you more ill with every pill that’s to heal you, will have you laughing when you should be crying and loving a fake family in a parlor when you should be hating, “the state” will be at war with you while you think you are in a “peaceful state.”
I Frederick Thugless, was born before you by an oak tree in a pile of leaves on a cool July afternoon. I like to remind myself that books and I both derived from the sun and the earth, only the books will outlive this sunflower. A thorough, passion in reading body language sparked my reading endeavor at the age of four. Every letter was a tone, a note. Every word was a poem. My teacher abandoned me and I was cast out into the depths of my mind with a few letters and novel words to keep me buoyant as a boy at sea. Making it back to shore able minded, I am a skillful harpooner of my mind able to recall and retrieve the most poignant term swimming the deep dark waters of my complex lexicon. I did not come on the Nina, the Pinta, nor the Santa Maria and could care less how I got here. Ink quills quiver as I approach them, the biceps of men can’t wrestler my finger tips. My voyage toward mental freedom was full of toils and strife which I transcribed onto gathered papyrus. The New World loved my story, although they did not understand. My autobiography was mass produced. My thoughts converse with the thoughts of those other ships passing in the night. To burn books is the sinking of relationships and the drowning of men.