Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Unintentionally Blank Look

My copy of Emigrants, by W. G. Sebald (Vintage Classics, translated by Michael Hulse, 2002), has four completely empty leaves after the last written (typed) page of the novel, which is on the right hand side. That means that there are nine blank pages. I haven't seen a printed book like this for a while. Yes, I do know how books are constructed, thank you very much.

After discovering this rather endearing quirk, I left the Starbucks (nothing better nearby, not having brought my Nescafe premixed sachets) and I hop-scotched up Soi 2, where the paving has been repaired to such an extent that it verges on being almost not as terrible as it was prior to having been torn up for several months and then carefully thrown down, I can only assume, as part of his a day-job, by that poor blind man who can be seen every night slowly walking the length of Sukhomvit, and up and down all its main sois, squealing Thai love songs to the annoying and, compounding the pain, annoyingly loud screech of his back-pack amplifier all the while being guided, with her hands on his shoulders, by his suspiciously young "mother", and my head was filled, inevitably, by thoughts on the once common practice of printers of placing their oft-mocked, self-contradictory comment, printed on an otherwise, please note, blank page, that the page in question has been left blank intentionally: blank, that is, on, but not for a, purpose. Blank, with the exception of deblanking the page with the notice itself, to the contradictory effect of its intended message. For, patently, it is no longer blank.

What if the page had been left blank unintentionally? What would be their notification on the page in such a case? This was the sort of questioning that was swirling frothily and maculate post cappuccino, around in my brain.

Of course, I reasoned (sic), it would make more sense to print any notice about the blank page on another, best adjacent, not necessarily initially, blank page.


Contradiction expunged. Problem solved.

The mystery of what should have been printed on the page had it not been left blank, unfortunately, teasingly, insomnia-inducingly, remains unknowable.

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