Empty Days

Thursday, June 24, 2004



Why I read.

It finally occured to me that I've never read Thomas Mann. Someone once tried to push Herman Hesse on me but for all the pushing I didn't like the premises. Not so with Mann. Missing on this writer is like missing on, say, Flaubert in France. It's permissible but unwise. I don't like Flaubert in the least - yet I don't regret having read him. For some unknown reason I also loath Balzac. In fact, much of XIXc french literature is profoundly meaningless to me (though this is too large of a statement - I love Stendhal, and Baudelaire truly devoured me once upon a time).

But I am not well-read. I am only "well-read" for my own purposes. Which is to say I would clearly miss out on most of those "famous quotations" games that are played in places like TLS (though it's only relevant for anglo-saxon stock).

The reason I am so not-well-read is because I always wait for a meaningful reason to tackle something new. I can never just pick up a book because I know the name of the author - I know too many names, and most of them ring hollow to me until finally something occurs in the high chain of my mental command and I am sent out on reading this particular ever-known writer.

I can't waste time on pointless erudition - I don't see the need.

Gross case in point: I never read Dickens and I am still not seeing the light as to why I would want to read him. Indeed: why would I? Can't think of a reason.





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