Title: The Great Green Book of Mould
Author: Asper Gillus
Publisher: Oneiropolis University Department of Fungal Literature
When my friend Phidias told me I really had to read The Great Green Book of Mould, I was, well, somewhat surprised. I do enjoy nonfiction, and I’ve read excellent books by and about mushrooms, but mould? Not exactly inspiring subject matter, I thought. But I decided to trust my friend and give it a go.
The book begins with a thoughtful, introspective examination of mortality and eternity as revealed to us in the nature of mould. Is mould decay, or is it growth? Is it a symbol of the fragility of life, or of its tenacity? The author considers his or her own relationship to mould – after all, we are surrounded by it. Mould is in our homes, in our food, in our medicines. It can cause terrible ailments, cure dangerous diseases, and create preposterous cheeses.
The deeper you get into the book, the more the pages themselves begin to go mouldy. The act of touching the book, the tiny filaments caressing your fingers, becomes increasingly unsettling and strange. So does the book’s content, as the author leads us on what can only be described as a kind of poetic dream-journey through the history of growth and decay. The details are hard to set down, because the spores emitted by the book’s pages have a psychotropic effect. As the pages grow more and more mouldy, the words shift as the filaments move, and you can hear the wind whispering in the vast fungal forests that stretch out before you. You lose track of time, and you hear a voice – is it the author’s voice? Is it the voice of the mould? You begin to see every living being as a kind of explosion, as limitless energy and potential in constant transformation, of which the thinking soul is but a tiny part. You perceive the glory of death, though you’ll never quite be able to remember it later. You come closer and closer to some fundamental truth about the universe, about persistence, about the sublime… and then you pass out.
No-one has ever read the final page, or at least not read it and understood. Reading it on its own, without the full effect of the spores, is pointless – you can only perceive meaningless mould-covered paper. But the meaning is there, in the mould. Everyone who’s read the book knows that. The question is just how to find it. Some have gone mad trying, reading the book over and over, but I was content to stop. Perhaps the reason I was not negatively affected – as I’m sure my friend Phidias knew I would not be – is that I have faith. Not in myself, but in people.
I am confident that one day the mystery will be solved, not by a single brave individual pushing on through, but by many people working together to find a safe way of persevering to the final page. And then, perhaps, we will know. Or perhaps the words will have changed, but the wisdom we will have accumulated in trying to understand them will have changed us as well.