Friday, December 9, 2011

"Time has fallen asleep in the afternoon sunshine"

Since the late 1980s, my spouse Jim and I have been book people, in the Fahrenheit 451 sense of the term. We have both always been bookworms, but when we moved in together we decided to go a step further and NOT have a television. Still don't have one.

Mrs. Hudson, Fahrenheit 451
You may recall, from the 1966 François Truffaut
film version, a woman on the street trying to explain to the book-burning fireman, Guy Montag, why Mrs. Hudson's house is so different.

The woman points from housetop to housetop, indicating the TV antennas. "See? There and there?"

Then she points at Mrs. Hudson's roof. No antenna.

When we moved to Jacksonville in 2000, we were disoriented in more ways than one would expect. Among other things, we couldn't find an independently owned bookstore anywhere near us.

Fortunately, our neighbors saved us by directing us to Chamblin Bookmine.

Chamblin Bookmine,described by the Wayfaring Wanderer
Image from a post about Chamblin Bookmine by the Wayfaring Wander

This place is a lifesaver for book people...though you may want to bring food and a sleeping bag, in case you get lost in the miles of "New, Used & Nonexistent" books.

Better still for us librarian type people who work downtown, Ron Chamblin has now opened Chamblin's Uptown, which also features a cafe with excellent food and coffee. That's where my colleagues and I often head for lunch.

As I trek the half block back and forth between the place where I can sit and read and the place where I have to let other people do that, I pass an interesting, grungy space between two buildings.

The city cannot stop me, by Mike Shell

The scene holds me, because the blooming Shepherd's Needle (or whatever the plant is) is like so many urban plants. A seed found a crack where no one intended life to grow, and it stays on, as hardy as the "urban outdoorsmen" who populate downtown and fill our periodicals reading room for much of the day.

Why my weird mind finds a connection between this so-called weed and book people, I don't know...though I suppose it's really sort of obvious.


Note: "Time has fallen asleep in the afternoon sunshine" is a line from Alexander Smith's essay Dreamthorp.

Here is the scene in which Montag discovers Mrs. Hudson's cache of illegal books:

11 Elm. Suspect books in the attic of a Mrs. Hudson.

She made the empty rooms roar with accusation and shake down a fine dust of guilt that was sucked in their nostrils as they plunged about. It was neither cricket nor correct. Montag felt an immense irritation. She shouldn't be here, on top of everything!

Books bombarded his shoulders, his arms, his upturned face. A book lit, almost obediently, like a white pigeon, in his hands, wings fluttering. In the dim, wavering light, a page hung open and it was like a snowy feather, the words delicately painted thereon. In all the rush and fervor, Montag had only an instant to read a line, but it blazed in his mind for the next minute as if stamped there with fiery steel. 'Time has fallen asleep in the afternoon sunshine.' He dropped the book. Immediately, another fell into his arms. ...

Montag had done nothing. His hand had done it all, his hand, with a brain of its own, with a conscience and a curiosity in each trembling finger, had turned thief. Now it plunged the book back under his arm, pressed it tight to sweating armpit, rushed out empty, with a magician's flourish! Look here! Innocent! Look!

He gazed, shaken, at that white hand. He held it way out, as if he were farsighted. He held it close, as if he were blind.
See The Big Read | Fahrenheit 451, a transcript of a National Endowment for the Arts radio discussion of the novel between author Ray Bradbury and Orson Scott Card, John Crowley, Paquito D'Rivera, Hector Elizondo, Dana Gioia, Nat Hentoff, Ursula K. Le Guin, Azar Nafisi, Luis Alberto Urrea and Sam Weller.

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