CULTURE AND CONTINUITY
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Fantastic places

Closing the book and taking a deep breath, Olav sits down on the cold chair in the corner of the room while looking carefully at Jon. Little Jon fell asleep not long after Olav began reading him the story. He is probably far from here now, in a country where there is no horizon. Olav starts wondering how such a children’s book can still move a grown up. Meanwhile, you are getting curious about the book.

The book has not moved and is still in balance on the corner of the table. Looking at it, Olav wonders if words holds weight, and if so would it affect this delicate balance. Why would words not have weight? Look around, everything has weight, and words are ink on paper, so you better choose the right ones if you want to keep that book stable.

Still perplex, Olav gets up, grabs the book - did not remember that the cover was so thick - and walks to the stairs. Passing by the chair he notices the long wooden spoon that Jon had been looking for the whole afternoon. It had slid incredibly far from the tabletop where it was set after they had played. Olav always believed in the secret life of objects. He bends down and reaches for it. It is so short all of a sudden, it had transformed into another object in Jon’s fingers. The sword, the wand, that made you travel in so many curious places becomes a spoon again after you are done playing with it. Olav quietly walks over to the kitchen and lets the spoon be spoon once more.

The air has become crisp by now, the fire is probably out. Olav can smell the fresh breeze on his skin, the same one that announces the arrival of the fall. But the atmosphere lacks the scent of the thousands falling leaves that lay on a humid street he has so many times experienced while walking home. Better put something on, don’t you think? Olav grabs his itchy woollen cardigan hanging on the corner of the door left ajar.

The door is still and silent, on this very delicate balance that barely holds. The pulling of the woollen layer begins the rotative movement of this long and wide massive timber panel around the creaky hinges. This surface that was part of the wall all this time, heavy and important suddenly becomes a light volume floating above ground. The black shadow on the parquet is a reminiscence of the vertical surface the door was moments before. As it follows its arc, the obscurity runs into the transitory corner forming an ambiguous space.

As the sweater slides off the handle, the last button finally falls. It has gone through so many winters, Olav can feel its long history when he wears it. He walks around the room with the knitted cardigan on, but open. Here again you are facing a hard choice, keep the old rag, be cold but walk along hundreds of memories, or buy a new one for your well being. Olav wraps himself in the sweater as well as he can to go gather some logs. He heads towards the chimney to light a fire. The room has become so dark, it has lost its depth and its contrast as if a cloud of mist had invaded the space between the four walls.

He sits down, facing the whole space and starts again the task he has done so often. He pulls open the small door, rigorously places one log in the dark box among the cold ashes and carefully balances another. After this precise exercise of equilibrium he crumbles pages of an old newspaper that he has kept for this very purpose and put them between the wood pieces.

The scene is set, little by little, he has closed his eyes . Olav keeps on going, blindly, as if he was born to do such a thing. Imagine the choreography of his hands and arms around the room, can you not see the great conductor Olav is in his spare time?

Slowly the room brightens, as if the light had blown away the shadow, pressing the darkness to the edges of the room. The volumes are now clearly framed by their dark imprint and the habitable volume was delineated by neat black traces which gathered the walls around the fire. The whole space has now recovered its pure identity, a void in which Olav can safely wander. He fetches the book and goes sit in the four seats sofa.

We are back to it again you think, but you never really forgot about it, did you? Why is it so special? We did not even give you its title. It could be a the adventures of a knight or maybe a love story. The cover seems to have something special, a rare density, a curious color, an uncommon texture. You are probably still thinking about how much its thickness can affect the book’s balance, are you not? Those bound pages are Olav’s first book, he got it when he was a child and its meaning has transformed through the years. The magic that it held has gradually disappeared and is now slowly transferring into his existence. It has taken all these years. Jon however is still bewitched by its words and sentences. But it is another world, or is it not?

Jon has been woken up by the combined smell of chimney fire and hot chocolate milk. While he is heading towards the living room, he sees the snow falling down from the grey sky, making the landscape all flat with no shadows. Putting his hands and his nose on the frozen windows he asks: “ Have you seen it? It is like the book you read me yesterday. Would you read it again please?”. Olav smiles, knowing how precious those moments are, opens the red thick book and starts again, from the beginning.


written with Manon Tardieu
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