I took some time out this afternoon to hang out in Oxford University Parks with Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which I’d been given for Christmas but hadn’t a chance to read yet. It’s a children’s book, and one whose 526 pages were whizzed through in a couple of hours, leaving a kind of screen burn on the way I look at the world. It’s probably the most beautiful hardback I’ve ever owned, but more than that, it pushes the boundaries of what’s possible with a traditionally printed and bound story. Prose gives way to graphic novel, and then to cinema stills, all becoming part of a visceral patchwork that adds texture to its plot and subtexts. It overtly promotes thinking outside predetermined structures, which is an important lesson for any kid (even a big one in his thirties), and dares the reader to imagine what they could achieve, even going so far as to equate creativity with magic. I loved it.
It’s also a good reminder that people, particularly in crunch times like that one we’re now in, will always try and constrain things to the categories that make sense to them. The people who are really successful, and who changed the world for the better, all managed to take the skills they’d learned and built up over their lifetimes and turn them to breaking through the barriers other people had put in their way. They weren’t afraid to be themselves, think the way they think, and push the boat out that little bit further.
What can you imagine? Why aren’t you doing it?
Flying by Francisco-PortoNortePortugal, released under an Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic license.