Sunday, July 3, 2011

Stories That Transcend Language

Charlie Boorman is a motorcycle enthusiast who has traveled around the globe. When asked is a recent interview what the most memorable part of his journey was he said it was the realization that people everywhere, regardless of culture, class or country have a lot more in common than most of us think. If we choose to focus on all the things that we share (a lot) rather than the things that separate us (not much), the world might just be a little better off for it.

It is in this worldly spirit of connectedness that Shaun Tan's The Arrival exists. It is a picture book absent of language but full of images that stir ghosts from some long forgotten corner of the mind. The artwork is gorgeous, and the story of a man who is forced to leave his home for a strange and foreign land is not only an immigrant's tale, but the tale of anyone who has ever felt lost and adrift in their own life (I assume pretty much all of us).

The silent movie aesthetic might turn off a few language-obsessed word junkies. The rest of us can just bask in the beauty of it's dim light and experience something unique and wonderful. I think Mr. Boorman would appreciate it. I think you will too.

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