I recently finished the book, Bicycle Diaries by the artist David Byrne. It was a gift from my in-laws and they made a great choice. Byrne writes about riding his folding bicycle around cities such Berlin, London, Istanbul, as well as his home town of New York. Contrary to what the title might suggest the actual act of riding a bike rarely comes up. Instead he gives the reader an artist’s eye view of city planning and local history as well as a kind futurist view of where we are and where are we going.
Being a left-brained engineer type I enjoyed to opportunity to view the world through the eyes of an artist, especially one as academic (an academic artist – is that an oxymoron?) as Byrne. It reminds me of the time I had some photos in a studio show and was invited to be one of the gallery artists. We held meetings during which I was continually fascinated by the way these guys and gals thought. We reached proper conclusions but their priorities and concerns were typically issues I’d never even considered. It’s refreshing to take off your blinders on occasion, and at least attempt to see the world through the eyes of another (perhaps our Senators would benefit from this advice).
Fiction creates just such an opportunity. Reading fiction allows you to see the world through the eyes of another. Good fiction puts you behind the eyes, and allows you understand, if not sympathize, with actions, which if viewed from the outside, seem completely out of whack. If you don’t read you simply cannot make sense of this world. Heck that’s what storytelling is all about – an attempt to explain some small part of this weird place we all call home.