Saturday, July 4, 2009

-Paper Cuts and Brain Freeze-

I'm a reader. I go through books like elephants go through peanuts. My wallet hates me as a result and I've become a fixture at the little used bookstore downtown.

But over the years there's been a handfull of books that have held more sway over than me than most, to the point that I'd go on to say that they've actually altered the way I view the world and as a result, the way I create my work.

Six Books That Have Fucked With My World:

*Joan of Arc: In Her Own Words Willard Trask.

Given my other posts, one would probably expect me to include the New King James Bible in this list, but my relationship with outright religious texts is so complicated that I've over looked them for this. However, about ten years ago, my mother went out with some friends and during the course of the night she ended up at a bookstore and bought this book for me. It's the collection of depositions, testimonies, war journals and confessions of Joan of Arc during her trial by the English.

At 15 the stark language of the trial and the conviction of her responses floored me. More than anything, including the religious base of Joan, her conviction is what caught in my mind more than anything. Feral loyalty is something that has been a fixation for me and it was this book that came to mind years later when I studied the Hagakure.

*Preacher Garth Ennis:

I'm a rabid defender of the art of comic books and I couldn't give a rat's shit what you think, they're an amazing vehicle for literature. Preacher was the book that proved what I always knew to be true. The book follows the adventures of Jesse Custer, a possessed minister on a mission to confront the God who has abandoned his throne. If anything, the nine volumes of this series reaffirmed my own moralities (and lack there of) and personal conflicts.

*Fight Club Chuck Palahniuk

It seems trite for someone from my generation to list Fight Club as a mind altering novel. But there's a reason my peers flock to this Neo-Luddist piece- it speaks a shit ton of sense. And non-sense. And enough swagger to keep my interest. Dissatisfied, underwhelmed and angry, the book brought words to my mouth for the things I felt and the things that needed to be said.

*Thundering Silence: The Sutra on How to Better Catch a Snake Thich Nhat Hanh

I read this book at an extreme low point. I was an emotional shit stain and needed to be washed off. I found this skinny little book in a used book shop and took it's message of intellectual vanity to heart, panicked and, to the odd looks of my friends, got rid of all my books, ashamed of my own hubris. Of every book I've ever read, this is the one that provoked the most extreme and immediate of reactions. It also began my explorations of Buddhism and a dismantelment of certain hangups I'd been shredding myself on for years.

*The Mysterious Stranger Mark Twain

I'm a fan of Twain in general, but his unfinished novella was the one that bit the apple for me. Following an angel named Satan and some children he comes across. It examines a dialogue of accussation and existentialism that resulted in a PBS special that still spooks the shit out of me. It also contains one of the most important quotes I've come across.

*Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World Murakami Haruki

It's hard for me to pick a Murakami book that has influenced me the most, so I'll leave it as the one that started the obession. Hard-Boiled remains one of my all time favorites though. Surrealist and nonchalant, while somehow touching on reality at the same time. The complicated and dual plots pull in the competing narrative without destroying the flow. Something I hope for my photography.

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