An Outbreak of Bibliophilia

Children, like humans, thirst endlessly for stories. My own seven grandchildren, who range in age from twelve-year old Jesse to two-year old Ruby, love stories. They thirst for story as we elders hunger to give story.

‘My son,’ remarked Rabbi Joshua to Rabbi Samuel (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin), ‘More than the calf yearns to suck the cow longs to give suck.’ How do I know this maxim? That story dates back to the commencement of the academic year in March, 1965, when I purchased the latest edition of Samson Wright’s textbook of physiology. I opened the great tome and found at the foot of an otherwise blank second page the above quotation. The sole yarmulke wearer in the class, I was the only one of 120 students likely to have knowledge of the Talmud. But the passage was new to me. And I was astonished to read the quotation and its attribution in this secular text.

What have the lactation urges of the cow to do with human physiology? Everything, it happens: that interrelation of forces, that feedback loop, that mutual energising is the very stuff of homeostasis, which operates also in markets, in the climate and in the biological relationships between humans. The sage Rabbi Joshua nailed a great truth. But I fear I wander.

The entire purpose of children is to satisfy the need of humans to regale them with stories. The reason children don’t run away is their reciprocal story hunger. The reason we don’t chuck teenagers out is the promise they’ll one day employ their disturbing sexual organs to create grandchildren for us so we can resume storytelling. And that’s what happened: my adult children used their sexual organs for the pleasure of their parents, creating seven grandkids.

All seven served their grandparents well, occupying yearning arms and longing laps, snuggling in and subsiding to the song of the story. Then they learned to walk. Two of seven, both of them boys, took to their heels and never stopped running. In time, although those two learned to read, they never took it to heart; it is in motion that they find themselves, one in organised sports, the other in disorganised sport. (Readers of this blog will recall this boy and the rescue of his fingers when trapped in a bathplug.)

Their bookish grandfather gazes upon the boys and sighs. He calls them to the couch for a story but the call of their balls is louder. Off they run, to soccer, to cricket, to mayhem.

What will become of them? What will become of grandfather?

Later the ball-players have returned home. Grandfather wanders to the toilet. Before him, on the floor, lies a cornucopia of books; the disorganised sportsman comes to a stop in this place. And in this sanctum he reads.

3 thoughts on “An Outbreak of Bibliophilia

  1. I envy you. your family and friends who retain the ability of receiving and orating “stories” !
    Years ago I set out on a path to find The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing But The Truth about the secrets of LIFE! I believe I’ve found many truths, but along the track my mind has deleted those beaut stories I’d liked as a “Kid” and created a barrier to any stories believed to be NOT truth! I’m still a depressant, BUT I’m now an empty vessel without having used my Imagination for so many years! no wonder I’ve a mental block to pick up my brushes to paint!
    You! dear Doc. Howard have retained the “secrets of Life” xxxx Bruce.

    Like

    • Once upon a time. A bloke raced bikes. No-one could catch him

      Once upon a time a young bloke trained to become a copper so he could protect the innocent and the vulnerable
      He was an honest cop who fought the good fight

      In the course of his service he saw so many stories, all true stories, that they burned him and broke him and he left the force

      But the young man – now older- never forgot the underdog

      He’s full of stories still

      Bruce you ARE the story

      With admiration

      Howard

      Like

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