A seemingly endless stream of fascinating ideas flowed back and forth across the 9th floor conference room during this season’s first gathering of The Artist’s Bookshelf. “The Lost Flame of Queen Loana” by Umberto Eco served as the topic of our discussion, but as often happens with engaging conversations, we got side-tracked along the way into some pretty interesting territory.
Because so much of the book revolves around memory as a basis for self-identity, the group questioned the nature of human memory, and the influences of various forces, ranging from pop-culture to high-brow literature (i.e., do we become what we read???). We all agreed that these forces undoubtedly DO have an effect, but how that effect might be measured remains (to us) a mystery.
This book’s continual references and allusions to other books, as well as the protagonist being a book dealer/collector, led us to ponder the importance of books in our own lives, and how much of our own identities might actually dwell there.
We closed the session with some thoughts about the Chuck Close exhibit, and its focus on self as content. In a recent NPR interview Umberto Eco declared himself a “puzzle-maker.” We thought that might be an apt description of Mr. Close as well.