Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Leaning and peering

God, we seem to have had substantially this same thread so many times and it's still boring. Who cares what someone hasn't read?
So asks the first commenter to Stephen Moss's blog about "guilty" omissions from one's reading history. One can only concur. I've said it before: I am not ashamed. Reading shouldn't a game of cultural awareness or oneupmanship but of personal happiness (in the widest sense). But one thing does trouble me: not having read books whose pages I have turned to the end. Yes, I've read each word and even noted down significant lines, yet something remains out of reach. I sense that I need to read it again. The book still awaits me, still awaits revelation. Again, will I ever read it?

Yesterday, in the British Library, in the new and permanent exhibitions, I browsed handwritten words from famous hands: Jane Austen, Captain Cook, Sir Philip Sidney, Wordsworth, Sir Paul McCartney. People blocked my view to lean closer to the glass and study the pages. What are they searching for, I wondered. Do the printed documents conceal something revealed by their personal scribbles of ink? No, probably not. But still this leaning over, this long peering. Is it perhaps a manifestation of a deep unease, that we haven't begun to read at all?


  1. I am deeply ashamed that I have never read Fukuyama's masterpiece, The End of History. To shield the embarrassing nakedness of my ignorance, whenever this wonderful tome is mentioned in polite and refined company I loudly describe Fukuyama as an asshole and a lackey, and challenge any dissenters to a bare knuckle fist-fight. Much blood has been shed and bones shattered, but noone has suspected my guilty secret.

  2. yes. yes, indeed.

  3. Anonymous2:11 pm

    Take comfort from the fact that the guy enraged with your pretend opinion hasn't read it either, though he too pretends that he has.

    He may even, like us, not have even been able to concentrate on reading the reviews.



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