Jeremy R. Brooks
MFA Thesis Report / Manifesto
2007
Description: Page 3 of 29

‘Please come back and finish your story!’ Alice called after it. 1

AN OPTICAL INSTRUMENT

Why just the other day…

I found myself immersed in a story that I had not read in quite some time. And while I can’t say for certain what caused me to reach for this particular book from the shelf, I did just that: I picked it up. Maybe it was because it was read, or rather is red. I don’t own very many read books you see, or at least very many red books that have such an elegant spine – bound with sparkling gold thread that catches the light just so. Not many at all actually. Only… I don’t recall looking to pick something up that day, so perhaps it had nothing to do with the way it looked… I am not sure exactly… I suppose that it could have been any number of things, but I think… I think that… or at least I would like to think that in this particular moment, it simply caught the light that day. I picked it up.

As I sat revisiting this narrative from my youth, a curious feeling took hold of me. Sitting frozen in my chair, somehow the words commanded my attention a great degree more than a re-read ever should. There was SOMETHING about it. Something about it was, well… strangely familiar. It was not the story. Although yes, the story was familiar to me – despite of course for a few scattered passages here and there that I had long since forgotten (I am quite forgetful to tell you the truth). But then again everyone forgets things like that, and I shouldn’t dwell over such a small detail but rather the point of the matter.

I can’t quite put my finger on actually what it was that I found so captivating, so familiar... hmmm… Well, maybe “familiar” is not the right word for it. Perhaps it was something else… more like… well, lets see… hmmm… more like… More like I was reading with… a new set of eyes…?

EUREKA, A NEW SET OF EYES… OF COURSE! That way it would seem familiar because I would know the story if I saw it, only now it was strangely familiar because I had new eyes that were not used to seeing that which I know it to be. That’s the difference between seeing (I see what you mean) and knowing (I know what you mean) you see. And as I think back upon it, everything about the read seemed to be in such acute focus. And since I didn’t wear glasses when I was younger… and I do today… then my eyes are different now then they were once before… OH YES THAT MUST HAVE BEEN IT!

I read the story. It made sense; or rather I made sense of it, either / or. I will admit that I was surprised, and I am not one to surprise very easily. How big of a surprise, well BIG enough to mention, although I would dare not call it an epiphany (I feel much too small for something as GRAND as that to ever happen to someone like myself). Still, it moved me just the same. It moved me while I sat frozen in my chair, until I finished the story from red cover to red cover.

Perhaps this was the type of optical instrument to which Marcel Proust referred, as I do not believe I could relay onto you what I found to be written upon these particular pages over what in actuality lay in print upon them. All I can say is that something other than the story revealed itself to me on that day. Perhaps the lead character and myself were faced with a similar situation, had fallen into a similar circumstance. Entangled, her story and my story were one in the same. We were both chasing something that was abstract to us. We were both reaching beyond ourselves to come to an understanding of SOMETHING rather curious. And we both made our own terms with it… I suppose…

Alice had her own story written about her, because she fell down into WONDERLAND. I had to write my own, only I didn’t know where to begin. Curiously, it revealed itself to me in the most unexpected of places… I would like to think that there was something about the light that day, but I am not sure exactly. I suppose it could have been any number of things… only it wasn’t. It was a read book.

– IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT WE READ, BUT RATHER WHAT WE THINK WE READ AND WHERE IN FACT THE STORY TAKES US. –
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