Thoughts Spurred by Re-Reading “84 Charing Cross Road”

At my Writing Table

At my Writing Table

“Have you got De Tocqueville’s Journey to America? Somebody borrowed mine and never gave it back. Why is it that people who wouldn’t dream of stealing anything else think it’s perfectly all right to steal books?”

Helene Hanff, 84 Charing Cross Road

Re-visiting this beautiful literary work has colored my day with the best hues. I even watched the conclusion to the movie on my DVD over breakfast this morning before dashing off to school. All day long, the story lingered with me, convincing me to come home from work this afternoon and completely re-do my bedroom/study area. The picture above was taken about a year ago. Below is how my room looks tonight:

I posted the quote above because I know all-too-well the experience of books walking off. I keep a collection of books the size of the one pictured above in my high school classroom. I have recently purchased my third copy of Kirk & Raven’s The Presocratics and my second copy of Steven Watson’s Factory Made: Warhol and the Sixties. I have yet to replace Robert Richardson’s Emerson: Mind on Fire. But there are worse things in life than losing a book. Having already read them, I can still go back into fresh copies and find what I culled from the first reading (if it is not already scribbled in a journal somewhere). And though a few volumes have walked away, I will never in this lifetime read all the books in my possession. I saw the inscription on somebody’s coffee mug recently: “So little time. So many books.”

This particular night has been idyllic. I finished refurbishing my special room a little after 7 p.m., and then decided to plant myself at the table to write in my journal, and read if so induced, and not stop until bedtime. Throughout the hours, I took off from the opening line of Aristotle’s Metaphysics: “All people, by nature, desire to know.” Grateful for the rich opportunity of studying the Greek language years ago in graduate school, I pursued Aristotle’s use of the word translated “desire” through its use in the Book of Psalms as rendered in the LXX (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) and in the Greek New Testament. This prompted me to scribble out quite a few pages in my personal journal as I meditated on this notion of “desire” and how it drives us as human beings. This was not only an enrichment to me personally; it set the table for what I plan in tomorrow morning’s A. P. Art History classes. It also gave me a measure of insight concerning my own internal drive to pursue the arts.

This evening has been a genuine gift after such a grinding schedule of late. Thanks for staying up with me.

I make art in order to explore.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

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4 Responses to “Thoughts Spurred by Re-Reading “84 Charing Cross Road””

  1. Laura (Createarteveryday) Says:

    Beautiful space and I also love that book! And books in general, of course.

    Like

  2. Susan Jensen Says:

    I loved that book and the movie, Ann Bancroft did a wonderful job. I also really enjoy reading all that you write and share with us. You inspire me and I thank you.

    Like

    • davidtripp Says:

      It is I who thanks you! I though Bancroft and Hopkins played off each other most masterfully. And yes, the book is so absorbing, and I wish others of the same genre were out there for me to read. Letter writing seems to be a lost art (and here we are, sending electronic, public messages!) and it leads us to question just how much we “connect” in today’s world. We may complain that these two never had a face-to-face conversation, yet we don’t seem to mind the same thing happening, online. At any rate, thank you for making my day better.

      Like

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