I’ve had “Phantastes” by George Macdonald on my shelf for a couple years. I got it because I love C.S. Lewis and Macdonald was one of his greatest influences. As soon as I got it, I put it on the top of my “to-read” pile even though the cover has a weird ghost figure that gives me the heebie-geebies! When I sat down to read it, I got bored almost instantly and put it away for another time. I’m not really a big fan of pure fantasy books. I’ve tried to read some but just get lost usually. Here we are several years later and I’m trying it again. This time I’m really enjoying it. I must be in the mood for an escape from reality!
There is a quote from the story on the very first page that really struck me to the heart. “In good sooth, my masters, this is no door. Yet is it a little window, that looketh upon a great world.” That sums up exactly what a book is! Each time I open a book and read it through, I look into another world, whether it be fantasy, science-fiction, or history. I can’t walk through into that world as if through a door, but I can look into it and learn from what I see there. It isn’t the same as walking through and living in the world like I do in my own time. It’s only a piece of that world that I see. Like a window in my house, it lights up my own.
But why entitle this post “forgetful”, you ask? Well, nothing bothers me more than forgetting things completely. I knew I had started to read this book before, but believed I had only gotten a couple pages in before I gave up. I’m a quarter of the way into it this time and I’m still finding dog-eared pages from the previous read. It bothers me because none of it is familiar this time. I don’t have the vague sense that I’ve heard this story before. It’s completely gone.
That happens to me a lot with books. I read them, note them, talk about them, and sometimes they disappear from my memory. Sometimes, though, I read a book and think, “Well, I already know these things and use them!” and then I’m reminded by a note or an underlined sentence, that I’ve read it before. I’ve learned that it shouldn’t bother me because I may not be able to tell you the title of the book but I am using what’s inside it. Its information is lighting up my world without my knowing that the window is even there.