Armchair BEA is the experience for book bloggers to participate in Book Expo America (BEA) from the comfort of their homes. This experience is created lovingly by book bloggers specifically for our peers who for whatever reason are not able to participate in the main conference in New York each year. We bring publishers, authors, and bloggers together in celebrating our love for all things literary by hosting celebrations such as sneak peeks, daily discussion topics, and sponsored giveaways.
As one of my favorite book blogging events, I look forward to Armchair BEA every year; however, for various reasons, neither this event nor BEA itself have been much on my radar lately. We’ve been sick with a cluster of illnesses (pneumonia, bronchitis, the end-of-school-year inertia rendering both kids grumpy and miserable) making life a bit of a challenge during the last month – and especially this past week. I’m actually grateful I wasn’t planning on going to BEA (I’ve been to the Book Blogger Convention that was held as part of it in 2010 and again in 2011.)
Anyway, crazy times like these on the home front are when I crave short books, ones that I can read quickly and feel some sense of control and accomplishment. Today’s Armchair BEA topic, Visual Expression, fits with that.
There are so many ways to tell stories. Whether it’s comic books, graphic novels, visual novels, webcomics, etc, there are quite a lot of other mediums to tell a story. On this day, we will be talking about those books and formats that move beyond just words and use other ways to experience a story.
Now, comics and graphic novels are not my thing. Granted, I haven’t read many of them, but for whatever reason – probably the same ones that made me dislike cartoons when I was a kid – they just don’t hold that much appeal for me.
So, because I was focused on the comics bit, it was a bit of a struggle to think what I’ve recently read, am interested in reading, or what I could recommend that fits this category of visual expression. And then I remembered a little book I recently read: Acorn, by Yoko Ono.
(Yes, that Yoko Ono.)
The best way I can describe this is as a collection of illustrated meditations and inspirational phrases. As Yoko writes in the introduction, her book of “conceptual instructions,” Grapefruit, was published 50 years ago.
“Some years ago, I picked up from where I left off, and wrote Acorn for a website event. Now it’s being published in book form. I’m riding a time machine that’s going back to the old ways. Great! I added my dot drawings to give you further brainwork. i’m just planting the seeds. Have fun.”
And you know, regardless of what you think of Yoko Ono, this is a fun little book. What I refer to as meditations, or contemplations, are each presented as linked “pieces” about various topics, each with a little Seurat-type of drawing accompanying it. The artwork alongside each quote or linked group of phrases is almost as compelling as the words. At times she seems to be channeling her late husband John Lennon with several pieces encouraging the reader to imagine a planet or a landscape or all the people. At other times, she can be pretty damn funny. (“Take your pants off before you fight.” – Dance Piece III)
“Imagine two billion universes.
Visualize yourself on a planet in each universe.
Imagine what all of you are doing and thinking
at this moment in time on the different planets.
Think if the activities are correlated amongst all of you
Think how those activities are affecting the balance
of the infinite space.”
– Earth Piece VIII
With this one, I can think of a few people who could benefit from this sort of phone:
“Get a telephone that only echoes back your voice.
Call every day and complain and moan
about your life and people around you.”
– Room Piece V
Tape the sound of your baby son crying.
Let him listen to the tape when he is
going through pain as a young man.”
-Sound Piece VI
I kind of love those.
Then there is this one, which struck me as a bit of an odd sentiment coming from Yoko Ono.
“Your brother is the man you killed in the past world. He was born in your family because he wanted to be near you.” – Questionnaire I
Um. Well. If you follow that logic, she’s basically saying that John Lennon and Mark David Chapman will be brothers in another life, right? That’s a bit too woo-woo even for my sensibilities, which can tolerate more than a considerable amount of woo-woo-iness.
I know Yoko is a bit of a controversial figure and that she’s easily dismissed by many, but I happen to really like and respect the hell out of her. Same is true, perhaps, of Acorn. Some may disregard it or not take it seriously (mine has a copyright date of 2013 and I’d never heard of it) but the goal is to take what works for you.