11 July 2007
Author: John Light
Illustrator: Lisa Evans
If Aldous Huxley and Edgar Allen Poe teamed up to create a children's book, this would be it. The world of The Flower is a hauntingly dismal place where the city is all shades of grey and people live in tiny boxes. A world where the great vastness of human potential is confined by the cruel limitations of their post-industrial nightmare.
The human spirit was not meant to live in a colorless world, wading through smog, scurrying across concrete, afraid to make eye contact on the subway. In this book, city living is cold and soulless... like a cadaver--still vaguely human, but for the distinct smell of fromaldyhyde.
Not to be melodramatic or anything.
Anyways, the hero in the book works in a library (obviously, since the library is a breeding ground for heroism), and one day discovers a book with a beautiful picture of something he had never seen or heard of before... a flower. The color from the picture is mesmerizing and soon our hero finds himself following a trail that leads him towards a reconnection with nature and a rediscovery of the beauty within.
The book reminds us of the importance of retaining some connection with the natural world, even when confined to the concrete jungles of urban living. I never quite understood this, probably because I've managed to kill every plant I'd owned. (A cactus even died under my care and those are supposed to be indestructible!)
But my girlfriend agrees with Light and Evans, and always insisted that having plants around the apartment was key to maintaining our sanity. And right now, as I look around the room, and see the few small potted plants bravely adding life our box of an apartment, I have to admit they've got a point. (Obviously, I'm not the one responsible for watering them or they would be dried-out husks by now.)
Which is why it's a good thing IKEA sells cheap plants. Truly, all your home furnishing needs in one conveniently surreal place! Who needs Mother Nature when you have the welcoming bosom of Swedish mass-production to make you feel at home?