The ideal book spins, like an exotic planet, into your heart and mind. It weaves a starry web of creativity where one’s thoughts will venture over an endless cartography of mystery and depthless lands.
Our libraries are changeable things; a reflection of what we see when we go exploring: what strikes our coy fancies, our earnest gravities, our pretty flippancies. They are a portrait of our lives as we walk past intellectual gardens, trailing our hands amidst the flowers and looking at the colors that remain on our fingers. The titles change, but the pigments never do. They fade, they become maddeningly subtle – but they never disappear.
I discovered a magazine recently – long lost and forgotten, but with its colors still intact: “The World of Barbie”.
Published in 1964, probably in my possession sometime in 1965, I loved this dainty little voyage. But it wasn’t because I was a collector of Barbie dolls – I only had one, with a favored magenta gown which I paired with scarlet heels. I don’t recall being moved by the editor’s salutation:
“This is the very first issue of “The Barbie Annual Magazine.” It is dedicated to you…
…because you are a girl
…because you like pretty clothes
…because you enjoy dressing your Barbie dolls in pretty clothes
…because you know that the word is a wonderful place and you are part of it
…because you are special, we have made this magazine for you. Everything in these pages is just for you. We hope you enjoy it!”
I don’t remember the stories – but I remember stepping into the photographs as if they were pools of thought; the visions that linger within closed and dreaming eyes.
She’s a very statuesque redhead, it’s true, but of more interest to my 8-year old imagination was the type of world where a girl could recline in the nape of a tree so large it could embrace your entire body! And the verdant light in the background – could one actually venture there; beyond that unknown light?
And then there was the darkling Barbie, clad in shimmering black and silver, her glorious 1960’s hair piled high and reined in by a diamond tiara.
But what I remember most affectionately were the blurred leaves crossing the photograph. By fencing this strolling Barbie in, by demoting me to mere viewership status, it made her demure jungle all the more real.
Finally there is Barbie-By-The-Sea. She is calm and charming, but what of the ship in the background – where was it bound to? From where did the gust of wind come, carrying it past the lady waiting on the shore, past the pebbles and flowers? What kind of place was this, where the plants grew over your head, where one could stare directly into their inquiring blooms?
I remember staring into these pictures as if I could perceive the very heart of them. I would walk quietly around the subject, hoping I would remain unnoticed as I took possession of the marvelous world in which she lived. And my footsteps would be light and my movements careful as I quietly closed the door.