Guardians of Memory
"If we lose our memory, we lose ourselves. Forgetting is one of the symptoms of death. Without memory, we cease to be human beings." - Ivan Klima
I remember, as a child, being read to by my grandfather. My grandmother would leave me, fresh-bathed and pyjama'd, at the door to the cosy study, from behind which a warm and sonorous voice would call me. In moments, I was surrounded by bookshelves (my grandfather's own handiwork) which offered up their array of hardbacked and enticing inhabitants.
In the course of my childhood visits, between us we explored many of the classic childrens' tales from my grandfather's collection. I recall most, but it is perhaps Kipling's Just So Stories that etched the deepest groove. I remember the cover - the Elephant's Child "getting" its trunk with a little help from its friend the Crocodile - and the other wonderful author's illustrations inside. I remember turning the pages as my grandfather read, and then later as I joined in with the retelling. I remember still the ritual of it: the anticipation in approaching the study door, and the voice, and of sitting side by side as the tale unwound from the pages between us. It's a book I would love to hold today.
Like most of our brethren, we are not beyond turning a little misty-eyed on occasion. Guerilla Books are about far more than nostalgia, however.
Stories preserve memories, the building blocks of our lives. Fiction or non, real or imagined, stories affect us when the human experience contained therein becomes interwoven with our own. Most stoires, the day-to-day reportage, leave little lasting impression. Some, on the other hand, resonate so strongly with our own idendity that they becoming woven into the deep fabric of our being.
It is these stories that Guerilla believes are worth preserving. Stories that transmit not only information, but knowledge and understanding. Stories that become, in effect, agents of change.
When Kipling wrote the Just So Stories, the shockwaves from Darwin's recent theory of evolution were still reverberating loudly through old world institutions. As a child, I was fascinated by the moral logic of these stories, and subsequent scientific enquiry has in no way dimmed the effect they had on a curious 5 year-old. In fact, it is because they operate outside of the realms of everyday rational thinking that they still possess such allure. They make us question, challenge our established way of thinking, of feeling and - crucially - contain mystery and mischief.
"In short, the universe is made of language, and once you realise this, you can make of it whatever you wish. It is vital to keep your soul alive by feeding it. Feed its giddy beak with all your strange thoughts and it will show you what’s hidden upstairs. Everybody’s brain is a vast continent, and if you do not explore this you are forgoing a moral obligation and the bland mud that clouds the soul of man will be caked all over your hands, dear." - from Andrew J. Lambie's A Carnival of the Flesh
We think we know a lot in this technological age, as did every age before us. The digital world can be wonderful - like all tools, it depends how and by whom it is used, and for what purpose.
At Guerilla, we believe real books have a purpose: to help etch stories into human memory. Beyond a superficial level, into our unconscious, to a still uncodified realm in which every story - The Great Story - is constantly being born. Books are the gateway, and the guardians; the ritual of engaging with them imbues the story in their keeping with greater authority and longevity. This is why every physical book we make is unique, as is the relationship with its unique reader. They are books that make us wish to share, to reread, to retell. What do people do, after all, but tell each other stories?
On occasion, of course, it's nice just to walk by oneself - is it not so, O Best Beloved?
— Thrill Your Inner Guerilla