My dad collects these ornate, leather-bound books. Gorgeous covers and pages, high-quality leather, thick, stout paper. All of the books are considered Classics. Mellville, Vern, Twain. Gorgeous inside and out.
Of all my dad’s books, perhaps my favorite is a worn, dinged-up copy of the Federalist Papers.
To call this book, and the men who wrote it, genius, a borderline insult.
I remember when I first picked it up and opened it. Pages worn and wrinkled, writing in the margins, a clear intent to absorb and understand the brilliance.
I looked at my dad and asked him how much he could get for it.
He grabbed it, flipped through the pages and responded, “not much. There’s a whole lot of imperfections.” He grabbed a pristine copy of Moby Dick. “I can get a whole lot more for this one. It’s perfect. Never been opened, corners aren’t bent. Gorgeous.”
At first I shrugged off his response, but driving home it started to eat at me.
The unopened, untainted book was gorgeous and worth a lot more. No one had read its ideas, its plot. No one had gotten lost in the characters or stayed up past midnight because they couldn’t stand not knowing what happened next. No one had slammed it shut in frustration when the antagonist won a battle. No tears had touched the pages where the main character died.
It’s not the book itself that’s beautiful or even the text within the book that make it a masterpiece.
It’s the understanding of the author’s mind, the connection to the author’s heart evident in the scars on the book. Those outwardly, tangible blemishes represent the struggles and scars of the writer’s heart.
The text is merely the eyes of the author that lead us to his soul. The sadder the eyes, the more beautiful the soul.
The scratches and blemishes, the dents and dings, the wrinkled pages and bent corners are what make the book beautiful.
The intent to learn, the choice to be enlightened, the longing to experience another world are what make it beautiful.
The imperfections make it beautiful.
The imperfections make it perfect.
A Toast: To the Perfect Book