30 June 2011

metaphorically speaking


Some of you may remember my musings in early 2010 on the right bumper sticker to stick on my then new used car. Fanny and I have been together now for about 18 months and I only just stuck the bumper stickers on the car .... but I couldn't quite apply the "Art makes me horny" one created by Aaron Krach. It's in a series of "Indestructible artifacts," after all.

The thought behind the bumper sticker came around again in the book I read as I flew home from New Orleans: The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie. The hero of the book is Arnold "Junior" Spirit who decides he has to leave the reservation in order to avoid alcohol and/or an early death. He transfers to a new school just off the rez. He and his new friend Gordy are discussing the size of the library and how long it would take to read all of the books, even though it's a pretty small library. Arnold says "Okay, so it's like each of these books is a mystery. Every book is a mystery. And if you read all the books ever written, it's like you've read one giant mystery. And no matter how much you learn, you just keep on learning there is so much more you need to learn." Gordy replies "Yes, yes, yes, yes. Now doesn't that give you a boner?" Being 14-year old boys, you can imagine the discussion that ensues as Gordy tries to explain to Arnold what he means: metaphorical boner, joy, boner is funnier, reading freak, joyous freak.

Thinking about metaphorical boners from reading is like art that makes you horny. The true aesthetic, spiritual, orgiastic feeling of delight that comes from an enjoyed work of literary or visual art.

True diary has illustrations by Ellen Forney, done as if being done by Arnold who draws cartoons. I thought there was one is which "metaphorical" was replaced by "metaphysical," resulting in a metaphysical boner. I can't find the illustration at the moment but the metaphorical/metaphysical dyad can continue to bounce around in my brain as much as it wants to.

There is much to like in True diary. A ways into the book, I noticed that it is branded by Little, Brown as young adult fiction. Alexie doesn't talk down to us and he deals with adult concerns, or at least growing-to-adulthood concerns.

But, you ask, what bumper stickers DID I stick on Fanny? "War is not the answer" from the Friends Council on National Legislation and the blue and yellow equals sign of the Human Rights Fund. "Art makes me horny" remains on the bulletin board in front of my desk.

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