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Bookprint - Ana Aragão

Ana Aragão

How to build a staircase with books

I think it's important to explain how you can build a staircase with books, because neither of the versions I've found - the powerpoint version and the pinterest version - is exactly credible or elegant, nor poetic. The first is an abstract drawing with abstract books and an abstract person, where the law of gravity, but also the law of taste, does not apply. The pinterest version is a solution for small spaces, where books are stored under the steps and which, apart from being photogenic, is just "cute". 
That's not what this is about. It's about formulating a method that allows us to associate and overlap books until we reach a place where we can see things from above, which is where we can see everything, or almost everything, better. First of all, we have to reduce ourselves, like Alice or that Samuel Úria song. Not as much as in Lilliput, the ideal proportion of reduction is to about 1/3 of our size, which means that a person like me, 1.58 m tall, becomes 52.6 cm, rounded off. 
The first steps have to be made with Uncle Scrooge (in synecdoche because there are so many of them), who I used to read and re-read at breakfast; the next steps should be books by Quino: it's not a bad idea to start with the drawing to get to the other things. The third rung has Sophia's books, which we read as children and which are moving just to remember; further on, much further on, are the white poems the beach is waiting for, I don't know if it will ever return (sorry, I'm losing my mind just thinking about it). What's more, it's not a simple staircase, it's a staircase that forks twice to assure us that whatever choice we make, we'll have to make another one soon after. 
At the first fork we have Italo Calvino, not just about cities, but about eternal beginnings and lucid lessons for this millennium. Along the stairs are books whose title is a date, which are usually good opportunities to see dystopias in perspective. But this is not the story of my work, but clear instructions for building a staircase with books. All along the ladder, interspersed with the other books, José Saramago appears: the books I've read, the ones I haven't, and one or two that he didn't even write. A stone staircase is always more resistant. 
The books I've been given are steps that can't be missed; receiving a book is as big a responsibility as giving it. The volumes of the complete Borges, as well as loose books, interviews, lessons and classes, all the editions of the same book, etc. ad infinitum, are largely responsible for the forks in the ladder, just like Kafka. Clarice Lispector is excellent at turning corners and architecture books are ideal for creating stability under others. Books with dedications almost reach the balcony. The orange books, starting with Herberto Hélder's, are the only ones you don't want to step on. We have to take a longer stride and put our feet down, one at a time, on dictionaries, grammars, encyclopedias, books about books. 
We should be careful with Proust, because he may suggest that we stop for a while to think and the stairs, like music, require a cadence. Standing still at a viewpoint is desirable, in a romantic garden it's poetic, now in the middle of a flight of stairs... it's strange. It's more acceptable to stop for a few seconds on a landing. But these stairs, as unusual as it may seem given the two forks, have no landing. As for the bulky red books that the stairs contain, you have to be respectful - they're usually solemn. The ones I like best are the ones that fill in the gaps between the larger books, books you can read in one breath. There are so many I'd like to name, but then I'd run out of time to climb the ladder, and in fact it's on the shoulders of giants that we see best. 
When I reach the landing, I wonder if anyone has understood my very clumsy explanation or if you would have preferred me to draw you a picture. 
Ana Aragão

Photo Credits: Cláudia Rocha