I have previously mentioned my early discovery of and love for science and speculative fiction, and referenced one book in particular, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. The body of work that Bradbury has produced is suffused with the essential wonder, curiosity and awe with which we humans regard the world and the universe, but this one tale seems to me to distill the experience of a person who is compelled to break out of the comfortable shell of his existence and discover a new and better way of viewing the world, and finding his place in it. The scene at the end of the book, that marvelous depiction of people memorizing works of literature and becoming living stories, is a powerful one that I shall never forget.
So it is with this amazing medium that is so young, and yet is already being taken for granted by so many. I refer, of course, to J-land, this marvelous library of living, breathing tales. It is, in a way, something new under the sun, a real-time serialization of countless lives being lived simultaneously; vaster, perhaps, than the fabled Library at Alexandria. Imagine yourself entering, say, a Barnes & Noble, and glancing about you at the shelves upon shelves of books and publications. You are just here to browse, maybe, but the sight of all those books draws you forward, as though you were an iron filing and this storehouse of literature a magnet.
There is an indefinable difference, however, that you cannot at first lay your hand upon. A certain title may catch your eye, inveigling and intriguing you. You might reach out and pluck the book from the shelf, perhaps running your hand over the cover to feel the texture.
Oddly enough, as you begin to spread the covers apart, the book insists upon falling open at the rear rather than at the anterior, and, in astonishment, you watch as a miracle occurs. As you gaze upon the blank pages immediately preceding the back cover, words appear, as if from nowhere, before your wondering eyes. Your very gaze seems the impetus for new writing to inscribe itself upon the page, and for new, untouched pages to magically add themselves to the tome.
Perhaps you turn to the beginning of the book, to see how this story got its start, or perhaps you are so intrigued by the continuing saga that you don’t feel the need to examine the past. Whatever. As you look around, other books begin to open their leaves, and new stories delineate themselves. You find yourself slipping inevitably into a botanical garden of endless paths and byways, a fairyland of marvelous, exotic blossoms, each tempting you with an astonishing variety of petals and scents.
Such is this toddling medium. The blossoms continue to grow and spread, and the stories are alive, continuing to write themselves on a daily basis, leading the reader into the future to discover what lies ahead. But there is more to this, of course. It is also like a worldwide cocktail party, where guests wander here and there, stopping to listen to intriguing conversations, joining in on occasion, and sometimes discovering someone with whom one feels a connection, someone who may eventually become a friend and companion on the promenade we call life.
Has there ever before existed such a miracle? Bonnie and I think not.
(I hope I have made some sort of sense here and offered an intelligible point.)
(P.S. - puzzle update - Bonnie has demonstrated that there is more than one way to solve the puzzle, if the solver does not realize that the top left box in the bottom right block is supposed to be a vowel. This is wholly due to my inexperience; I hope to remedy that in future.)