I don't read much anymore. It's difficult to explain why, exactly.
Glossing it over quickly let's just say that I really am tired of it —
and I think this has something to do with my medical condition. It's
not that I've given up on learning, far from it. But I guess at this
point it feels like I'm living off of the highlighted passages of every
book that I've ever read. And it just doesn't interest me to add new
books. It doesn't seem like it would make much difference at this
Last year someone gave me a copy of Thomas Pynchon's Mason & Dixon.
I love Pynchon, and I thanked her greatly for the gift. I leafed through
the book a bit. But I haven't read it. I also have a couple of P.I. novels
laying around, in fact they've been laying around for some time without
being read. And they will most likely lie there much longer. Last year
I bought Anna Karenina, thinking that getting into one of the great epics
would inspire me to get to work on the new novel. But the book laid around
for months, until last April, when I finally gave it to my sister as a
birthday present. And the other day I came across a series of novels by
John Crowley that ordinary I would have eaten up as fast as possible.
I thought about buying the set for about ten minutes. And then said to
hell with it. For a brief time last week I got the idea that perhaps I
should read Durrell's Alexandria Quartet again after an interval of 30
some years, or at least the first volume, Justine. But I decided that
given my track record lately with books that I probably wouldn't read
that one either and that it would just be a waste of money buying it.
It's not that I read nothing. I read blog posts and stuff on the internet.
I also consult my reference books occasionally — dictionaries, an old
atlas I have, a very outdated world almanac and a few other references
that I have in my bookcase. I use them as needed. That also applies to
some of the other books in my little library on an as-needed basis.
There is some reading that I still do — at least occassionally. I go back
over something or other in Herodotus. Or I read this or that section of
a book that I have carried around since the 70s, Wittgenstein's Vienna
by Janik and Toulmin.
But the book that draws me back most frequently is my Johnson copy of
the poems of Emily Dickinson. Sometimes I'll leaf though the volume,
reading this or that poem. Her range is the world. And her mind shatters
language for a higher use than that normally put onto paper.
It helps me somehow. In some way.
Unto my Books — so good to turn —
Far ends of tired Days —
It half endears the Abstinence —
And Pain — is missed — in Praise —
As Flavors — cheer Retarded Guests
With Banquettings to be —
So Spices stimulate the time
Till my small library —
It may be Wilderness — without —
Far feet of failing Men —
But Holiday — excludes the night —
And it is Bells — within —
I thank these Kinsmen of the Shelf —
Their Countenances Kid
Enamour — in Prospective —
And satisfy — obtained —
— Emily Dickinson, [Johnson: 604]