Saturday, January 10, 2009

On Decent Exposure

I am fascinated by this blog. The site design is vaguely queasy-making, but I stuck the address in my feed reader and now every day they come to me, stripped of their sidebars: the pictures of people reading in public.

I'm not sure why these pictures move me like they do. When I say 'move' I don't mean it in the high-flown, seven-hanky sense, but more prosaically: the pictures displace me, twist me a millimeter off my axis. The people reading read books of astonishing variety and sometimes questionable quality, masterpieces and dog-eared paperbacks and books that instruct them on how to operate themselves or machinery or the whole wide world. The people look content, or absorbed, or troubled. Hunched over their books, even the handsomest of them are ungainly.

I've always read in private. Usually in bed, lying down, a couple of pillows propping up my head. Or shut up in some small space during the day, hiding. Reading is an inward-turning act, a transgression of the rules of living which say: be here, now. To read in public is to transgress in public, to stage a miniature insurrection. Talking on your cell-phone, listening to the ipod: these are ways to alienate yourself from your physical surroundings, but you are still moving in the world, even if the people you speak to, or watch, exist at one remove.

You haven't turned your back. You aren't off the grid, untethered from your senses, powering a universe apart. There's something hideous or lovely, here. I scan the titles, trying to make it out.

1 comment:

Lily said...

Guess what?! I know the woman who writes this blog! To be more exact, I'm friends with her identical twin sister, and so say hello to her on the street every couple of months and she gives me a funny look (though I have actually met her a few times, and I'm sure she gets random hellos all the time). I love this blog (thanks for introducing me to it)and was looking at it last night and there was a picture of Liz! I mean, Sonya! And sure enough... what a small world :)