On the desire to read

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On the desire to read: a tribute to the books that have transformed my life

On the desire to read by amelo14

This simple photograph is a tribute to the books that have transformed my life and sense of self. This journal -----which was never meant to be a journal,  but instead a simple few paragraphs which kept on growing out of control----- seeks to discover what drew me to them, it seeks to tell you why I fell in love with them. For good readers are the best of lovers. Their hands touch you with some of the words we all long for; the words that bring us closer to ourselves in intimate encounters.

Encountering these books has allowed me to become who I am. They appeared at different moments in my life, but what makes them unique is how deeply they have touched me as I move through life. Among them, I found  friends  and challenging questions. For unquestioning friends are not true friends, but simply important acquaintances. These books questioned me, making me humbler. Because of them, I felt my ignorance. These books taught me, making me prouder. Because of them,  I felt my possibilities. Among them I feel at home, a  home built upon creative thought cemented, both tightly and loosely, by a passion for words. Within their pages, I discovered  profound human issues and beautifully complex human dilemmas. Their questioning nature allowed my sense of being to become a question, rather than a shallow and definite answer. How we hate to be questioned nowadays. How little we actually read. Have we then become the worst of lovers in an age in which sexuality is our expertise?

But I must confess. I recall my high-school years when I never even seriously took a book in my hands, being all too busy with basketballs and soccerballs. Don’t get me wrong I did well. But “doing well” is quite different from “becoming well”. But then ---–choosing to exile myself quite young, choosing the life of the eternal migrant without really understanding the consequences fully---- foundational changes came upon  me. The world of words appeared. I could not go back. I still cannot go back. I will not go back.

What I recall  most from the books on this OPEN list, is the feeling of exhilaration I felt when encountering them. It took me quite some time, but I learned what is  probably one of the most important things, not to fear  my initial failing to understand how  words I did not truly understand fully, could possess me so. Rejecting a book because you do not understand, is not believing in yourself. I remember, as well, how each touched me at different times in my life. It took me decades to understand what were some of the points underlying Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics. Although I had read it several times having attended multiple seminars, and although I understood the words I found before me, I did not understand their complex purpose. Now –---thanks to a very wise professor-----  I will dedicate great part of my life to it. As a matter of fact, I myself am surprised to have selected this author as part of my thesis as  he seemed so foreign to me for years. In contrast, I felt extremely close to Mann’s The Magic Mountain and Nietzsche’s views on art  from the very start. This worries me a bit  because they are too close to home. What is so close, can at times, hardly question us.

But, to repeat,  what I can recall most in ALL of these great books is the utter initial excitement I felt at coming in contact with ideas and feelings I had never thought about or felt. Through these books, my soul and body slowly became conscious of themselves. I found myself when I had thought for many years I was already there. I was there, but I was not myself yet. I am still working on being there more fully. All these great books held enigmas which forced me to think and feel anew. They required, and continue to require, great courage and dedication. And at the same time,  they held hidden keys which made me not despair completely. They provided, and continue to provide,  great hope and happiness. But to be totally honest,  many good professors indeed tried to help me along the way. I am always indebted to  them.

But all this is best expressed in one of the books in the list. Paul Ricoeur says it much better than I could ever do in his beautiful essay “The hermeneutical function of distanciation”. Worried by such complex words? Well, try to open yourself to them; enrich yourself by letting yourself know that you do not know. It is not easy for sometimes un-knowing is more difficult than coming to know. However that may be, in that essay Ricoeur speaks of what it is to understand oneself through written words:

“henceforth to understand is to understand oneself in front of the text. It is not a question of imposing  upon the text our finite capacity of understanding, but of exposing ourselves to the text and receiving from it an enlarged self, which would be the proposed existence corresponding in the most suitable way to the world proposed So understanding is quite different form a constitution  of which the subject would posses the key. In this respect  it would be more correct  to say that the self  is constituted by the “matter” of the text . (pg.  143-4,  Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences)

Opening yourself before the text, you re-place yourself; you find yourself inhabiting yourself in new spaces. You find homes. Words, these immaterial beings, allow your very skin to come alive. But you must let your skin be touched by the page. You must open your mind to the nervous sensation of not-knowing. Then you will come to know; perhaps even your body will realize.

If you are a bit lost, try to imagine this; learning another language, learning to read OUT LOUD the foreign words which escape you. This feeling of despair -------which I frequently saw in my dear students trying to learn English with its very complex pronunciation patterns---- is similar to what you must try to seek and feel. To really learn to read, enroll yourself in a class in a language you do not understand. Then, I believe, you will be much better prepared to read in your own language. For you will understand that reading, as Ricoeur says, requires a kind of displacement to become an effective generator of consciousness. Just try to read this Spanish selection from our famous Colombian Gabriel García Márquez:

"---¿Y hasta cuándo cree usted que podremos seguir en este ir y venir del carajo? –preguntó.
Florentina Ariza tenía la respuesta preparada hacía cincuenta y tres años, siete meses y once días con sus noches.
---Toda la vida--- dijo.”


If you live in Canada, as I do, now you might better understand what immigrants face daily. They are models for understanding the dis-centering of self required to become a good reader.


Or put another way, perhaps the single most important thing a reader must learn to do is to read by questioning what is read. Writers do not simply write in order to fill us with their knowledge. A lover that just wants to fill you, is a bad lover as well. Reading is special kind of action, more precisely, it is an inter-action. Puzzling, your mind becomes active before itself. Too complex? Think about this, have you ever read while having a conversation with another? In reading, you face yourself as actively as can be done.  Writers who want to be read interactively, immerse us in expectations and puzzles. Rather than answers, they provide the health of questions. By doing so, they jump-start our own process of self-discovery through self-reflective questioning. And this can, and usually is, a painful process of rupturing preconceived paradigms and schemata. In other words, a reader who does not puzzle over what he reads, is a very poor reader. This is why reading a newspaper will not do, this is why reading Stephen King will not do, this is why reading most magazines will not do. They do not require you to puzzle, though they are quite entertaining. In contrast, better reads generate a certain puzzling activity, that is to say, a dis-centering of oneself trying to understand how what we read alters us and makes us another. You hardly recognize yourself afterwards. When this happens to you, you know you will not forget.

Or think of it in still another way. Anne Carson, in her beautifully written Eros the Bittersweet, which looks at the transformations wrought by the appearance of writing and reading in the Greeks,  allows us to imagine the difficult appearance of a literate culture:

“When people begin to learn reading and writing, a different scenario develops. Reading and writing require focusing the mental attention upon a text by means of the visual sense. As an individual reads and writes he gradually learns to close or inhibit the input of his sense, to inhibit or control the responses of his body, so as to train  energy and thought upon the written word. He resists the environment outside him by distinguishing and controlling the one inside him” (pg. 44)

And this makes a lot of sense; for it takes much self-control to be able to sit down for hours upon hours and read. Don’t you remember your teachers telling you; “Can’t you just sit down for a minute!” Or think of how  you are often asked: “What are you doing?”, to which you respond, “Just reading.” As if “doing” were primarily moving around. Reading is a doing, but of a special kind. To put it bluntly, in reading, you are doing yourself.

Have you puzzled about this whole issue we take for granted? You there yourself on your own reading page after page of something which does not even speak to you and which makes it impossible to eat, or to jog, and even in some cases to listen to music at the same time. You cannot even have a conversation while you read. Reading is demanding of you, you must learn to focus intensively, to redirect your strengths and focus them on scribbled passages on a white sheet of paper. Sometimes even the print is so small your eyes go numb! But going through the motions of reading. is quite different from understanding a text. Books are always in need of good readers; they are in need of  questioning and eloquent readers who can make them come alive again. Books require enticing interpretations founded on the love of the word. (Anyone who has heard Robert Adams here in Toronto will understand immediately what I mean. www.writersunion.ca/a/adams_ro… . All societies have, must have, at least one such Adams.)

But besides our recognizing that reading generates a reflective stance that a simple conversation does not, there is also the less seen question of the erotic nature of reading. It is of crucial importance to signal out that a true writer permeates his pages with the eroticity of words. This may sound a bit strange to us moderns; but if one reads Plato’s beautiful Phaedrus, it is quite evident. Or think about the following. Do you remember the sensation of reading that book which moved you deeply? Do you remember not being able to put it down? Not even for your naked boyfriend, or girlfriend? “I’ll be right with you, honey,” you might say. It must be a powerful force, within you,  which makes you not let go of a book! What could it be? Once again, Anne Carson provides a thesis and a possible answer to a very peculiar human puzzle in her writing on eros and symbolic language. For instance, originally the word “symbol” ----and what are we artists but generators of symbols--- is simply your “other half”, your erotic love in Greek. This in itself is quite puzzling and problematic. But besides this, in her analysis of the written text  --specially those texts concerned with eros itself---- Carson points out that reading generates a triangular relation which is also inherent to erotic desire. There you are, there is the book. But how can two alone, triangulate? Two triangulate as lovers do; for the one we love in our imagination is not the same one we love who is standing right there in front of us. We love an image of the other, an image to which we cling. That the superimposition of the two is not frequent, is revealed by our divorce rates.

In a similar way, there is also a mysterious third party which provides the necessary voltage required to go on reading. It is the space between the book and yourself, the space in which your imagination grows. Photographers also know of this unique lit space between the object and the camera. It is the intermediate space in which one day you might find yourself and know who you are. It is the metaphoric space of the possible. Within it, as an artist,  you can be. I cannot here go into the details. Let me just say that we gain much from reading the following passage from Carson’s book. It is a passage which deals, in particular,  with the novel:

  “There is something paradoxical in the relations between a novelist and his lovers. As a writer he knows their story must end and wants it to end. So, too, as readers we know the novel must end and want it to end. “But not yet!” say the readers to the writer. “But not yet!” says the writer to his hero and heroine. “But not yet!” says the beloved to the lover. And so the reach of desire continues. What is a paradox? A paradox is a kind of thinking that reaches out but never arrives at the end of its thought. Each time it reaches out, there is a shift of distance in mid-reasoning that prevents the answer from being grasped” (pg. 81)

Upon encountering a book, you wish the relation would not end. This journal has tried to show why I cannot let go of the books in my open list. I have learned what is gratitude and generosity from them. Through their pages,  I have partially created myself. And as Carson points out, we wish we could go on forever reading. And yet, we know a book is finite. How could it be otherwise, for WE are finite. However, books embody a unique kind of finitude. A book is the finite human creation that pulls us out of ourselves into ourselves. By your becoming a great reader, the book becomes thoughtful flesh. The book is liberated from the silence of time. Thinking desire comes to life in the word.  

Something like this must be what Professor Pangle means when he speaks about the love inherent in great books:

“The quest for the truth, in the humbling awareness of how far short we  will inevitably fall in our erotic or needy pursuit of it, can be the foundation for the firmest attachments for a truly common humanity –---for a sense of the humane, and an immunity to the inhumane--— that emerges as a natural expression of the common love for truth. The great books may be said to be the products of such love; they may be understood as the gifts ----–handed down to us------ of such lovers.” </b> (The Ennobling of Democracy pg 216)

Have yourself a good read.

On the desire to read by amelo14


-----------------------------------------------------------

Appendix: The list of books

Some of you might consider my training to be too academic, too classical for dA. You are right and you are wrong. You would have to know me better. But perhaps in our age, being classical is revolutionary; being classical has become the most devious thing one can do. Moreover, this tribute is specially significant because I come to the end of my 4th year of continuous daily reading  in preparation to write my thesis Hopefully the next 2 years will be focused on writing and reviewing more, and reading less. Let us hope these coming years will prove a good harvest. Let this be a start.

And finally, please forgive me for  extending myself so much, here are the books that transformed my life. I have tried to list them in order of importance to me, though this has been VERY difficult to do. These books are:

Don Quijote Understands by amelo14


1. Aristotle: Nichomachean Ethics
2. Plato: Four Texts on Socrates: Plato's Euthyphro, Apology, and Crito and Aristophanes' Clouds and his Laches
3. Nietzsche: The Gay Science
4. Plato: The Republic
5. Plato: Symposium and The Phaedrus
6. Aristotle:  Politics
7. The Bible
8. Heidegger:  Poetry Language and Thought
9. Taylor: Philosophical Papers: Human Agency and Language
10. Strauss, Leo: The City and Man
11. Taylor: Source of the Self
12. Xenophon: Conversations of Socrates
13. Nietzsche: The Basic Writings of Nietzsche
14. Thomas Mann: The Magic Mountain
15. Heidegger: Being and Time
16. Heidegger: Basic Writings
17. Kant: Foundations for a Metaphysics of Morals
18. Ricoeur: Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences
19. Pangle: The Ennobling of Democracy
20. Sophocles: Oedipus King
21. Foucault: The History of Sexuality: Volume I
22. Rousseau: Essai sur l'origine des langues.
Où il est parlé de la Mélodie et de l'Imitation musicale.
and Discours sur l'origine et les fondements de l'inégalité parmi les hommes
23. Cervantes: Don Quijote de la Mancha
24. Dostoyevsky: Crime and Punishment
25. Machiavelli:  The Prince
26. Freud: On Metapsychology: the theory of Psychoanalysis
27. Pangle: Political  Philosophy and the God of Abraham
28. Faulkner:  As I lay Dying
29. Shakespeare Hamlet
30. García Márquez: El amor en los tiempos del Cólera
31. Angel: Misia Señora
32. Camus: Myth of Sisyphus and other Essays (specially Return to Tipasa and Caligula )
33. Sontag: On Photography
34. St. Augustine The Confessions
35. Marcus Aurelius: Meditations
36. James Joyce: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
37. Saphho: Poetry
38. Carson:  Eros the Bittersweet
39. Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings
40. Various: World Writers Today: a collection of short stories


(I have omitted many  extremely important authors and books, for example -----–academically speaking--- Hegel’s Phenomenology of the Spirit and his Philosophy of Right or Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. I have also omitted, and less seriously, the first book I ever consciously read, Emilio Salgari’s El Cosario Negro. His adventures through the Orinoco River in South America turned me into a life-long adventurer. I have also omitted the amazing work of Schopenhauer, and  Nussbaum, and MacIntyre, and brilliant Simón Bolívar, and Wordsworth, and Schiller, and Saint Thomas More, and Payán, and Locke, and Hesse, and humanist doctor Pellegrino, and all the MANY amazing interpreters of Aristotle and Plato and Socrates I have read in the last 2 years. I have also left out many art books dedicated to my favorite painters, Van Gogh. Kandinsky and Klee. And finally, I have omitted multiple books from the same authors; for instance, other works by Taylor or any of the others.)

Happiness --- or eudaimonia by amelo14

Published:
© 2005 - 2021 amelo14
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unda's avatar
I'll indulge myself and start with the appendix.
Random retrospective, to the health of after questioning, as reading is doing

Mircea Eliade- Sacrul si profanul. Hierophany.
- Maitreyi
Voltaire- Candide
Ibssen- Nora
Marcel Proust- A la recherche du temps perdue
Mircea Cartarescu- Irish cream
Lhasa in words
tea labels such as black Assam tea or better yet, black cherry tea
Aglaja Veteranyi- Why does the child boil in the polenta?
- The shelf with the last breathes
Nichita Stanescu- Antiwarrior times
Short stories on how things fall apart and what's left when they do
Miroiu&Miclea- (on how things fall apart, much less of a story)
The reality of Romanian communism. Then and now.
Brecht- Mutter courage
Stone- The Joy of living (biography of van Gogh)
the weekly literary newspaper
M. Mazzantini- Non ti muovere
bills
Hemingway- Hills like white elephants. A clean well lighted place. That old man and his sea.
medical prescriptions
Mihaela Miroiu- The road towards autonomy. Feminist Political Theories
deBotton-Essays on love
Murakami- Endless blue, almost transparent
the History of Romanian Literature, weekly as it seems
Ionesco- The lesson. The bald singer. The chairs.
Visniec- We hire clowns.
- The Raintraveller
Wilde- A house of pomegranates
Lucian Blaga. everything there is.
late night-early morning World history
The biography of Oscar Wilde opposed to Andre Gide
Berberova- Acompaniatoarea
Strindberg- miss Julia
Walt Whitman.
Andru- Indian Wisdom
the words that Andres Segovia should have to his songs
Keyes- Flowers for Algernon
The romantic biography of Frida Kahlo
Suskind- The pigeon
Pessoa- the Books of restlessness
Neruda- anything.
Bulgakov- Margaret and the master
- The heart of a dog
The dog walker. Short stories without the clasic name attached.
Cuppy- the decline and fall of practically everybody


The mere gesture of opening a book with the clear and clean intention of reading it is one quite dangerous action because reading is openness. It's an act of insane courage as a book is a threat to the present form of ourselves. Once opened and assumed, there is no guarantee one will return to the same pair of shoes/seat/coat/heart/wife, as a book is nothing less than a presence. Therefore one must be courageous in taking up their presence.

Yes, I remember the sensation of reading that book which moved me deeply. And I remember not being able to put it down.
amelo14's avatar
Oh my, you have really indulged yourself! A pleasure to see such indulgence.

And in the meantime I wonder how you do these little funny letters you do.

And I wonder how come I do not even recognize many of these creators. Who are they? Or better, where do you live? What planet do you move about, unda? And I laugh at your ingenuity in some; "bills", only you unda, only you.

And I recognize Neruda, and Suskind, and Voltaire, and Eliade and Whitman and de Botton and Brecht and Hemingway and Ibssen and Khalo and Van Gogh. And I know Voltaire and Whitman and Hemingway and Suskind and Brecht. I even heard a lecture by de Botton on status anxiety. I feel no such anxiety, just as Socrates did. And I know I laughed with Voltaire, but only for a few minutes; Candide, Voltaire took himself too seriously. And I enjoyed Whitman, though I am too suspicious. And Suskind, he opened my big nose; but I see better than I scent. Except somethings.

And I know I love Van Gogh; and I know I admire Khalo. And Hemingway, <For whom the bells toll. Unda, for whom do they toll? And I know I love Van Gogh. And I know I love Van Gogh; his work and his decisions. And I know I love Van Gogh.

And I profoundly know medical prescriptions, though I do not believe them in the very least. To prescribe is altogether a very different matter. I have gotten into serious problems because of this. And yet I will walk.

And I like to see this list, and read it as a book which you have opened before me, a dangerous action. And I laugh a little. There is also a Voltaire in me. But I guess I do not take him seriously anymore. Aristotle killed Voltaire; the true ironist is Socrates. A very different kind of irony.

I could go on, but I sense I must stop. I could get into even more trouble. I wil have a cup of tea now. I will read its drops. But before I leave, I must copy and paste:

The mere gesture of opening a book with the clear and clean intention of reading it is one quite dangerous action because reading is openness. It's an act of insane courage as a book is a threat to the present form of ourselves. Once opened and assumed, there is no guarantee one will return to the same pair of shoes/seat/coat/heart/wife, as a book is nothing less than a presence. Therefore one must be courageous in taking up their presence.

Yes, I remember the sensation of reading that book which moved me deeply. And I remember not being able to put it down.


(And I wonder: how do you do these little funny letters? Please, don't tell me. Let me just dream.)
paintertk's avatar
When burned The Libray of Alexandria, human events they were not too, what be able to. Often at it I guess, that the loss us always stigmatizing. Nor yet of it we do not know. Are we only such, how books, that are we readed and understanded them, but what are can we be, if are read-out too those not read-out?
With gratitude I am reading your article.
amelo14's avatar
Indeed my friend. Thank you for your words. Books open the forgotten in everyday life to deeper possibilities. BUt they challenge us, and therefore one must be courageous in taking up their presence.
pauliss's avatar
Actualmente estoy leyendo libros de matematica.....adoro las matematicas y releer libros de esta clase me hacen ver a esta espectacular ciencia como algo mas que una materia para rendir.

De todos los libros que he leido .....muchos me han parecido...interesantes....buenos...etc...

Pero pocos me han "sacudido el mundo"....dejado sin piso que pisar.....cuestionado mi forma de pensar.... dejado al descubierto la "estructura de pensamiento que la sociedad nos va imponiendo"....como los de L Marechal (Adan buenosayres en el pensamiento nacionalista y el Banquete de Severo Arcangelo en aspectos mas filosoficos)......y Ciudadela de S. Exupery.....este ultimo en particular......me saco de los esquemas......tanto que estuve cerca de 4 meses leyendolo....

Y esos libros que plantean desafios me encantan......tengo los ojos puestos en los de Sontag...pero son dificiles de encontrar aca...:(

Me da cosita.....mis libros no son conocidos universalmente.....he leido algunos nomas de esos....pero no me han llamado tanto la atencion...

Sera que el pensamiento predominante socialmente proviene de la mayoria de esos libros y pensamientos?......construyen el pensamiento de una sociedad..........otros te los cuestionan completamente (¡Ciudadela!)........hasta que te quedas.....pensando en la nada para volver a construir........con herramientas de unos y de otros.......

Adoro los libros que me sacuden los esquemas.......:D


lamentablemente solo hay unos pocos :(
amelo14's avatar
Gracias Paula por comentar mi journal. Mi caso es muy particular pues como te puedes dar cuenta parte de mi vida ha sido dedicada profundamente a la academia, pero sobretodo mas que eso, a la lectura de los clasicos. He esto he tenido mucha suerte. Es dificil saber que libro te movera el piso, ya que en ciertos momentos ciertos libros nos pueden mover. POr ello debe uno tomar el riesgo y tratar de extenderse un poco, para asi correr con la suerte de encontrarse con aquel autor que hara de uno otro. Es un circulo extraño ya que para que un libro pueda moverte, debes conocerte, pero solo leyendo libros puedes conocerte para dejarte mover. Y peor aun, solo leyendo aquel que no entiendes ---aquel incluso que no te gusta---- vas a poder por fin salir del esquema con el cual estas familiarizada/o.
FrancescaDaRimini's avatar
No Dante? :tears:
Have you read other things by Macchiavelli? The Prince, though heralded, is not very representative of him, and even he can't convince himself of what he is saying by the end.
Oh well, you have a nice collection anyway ;)
amelo14's avatar
I know! It is difficult to mention so many! Actually two days a go I saw an edition of Dante's "Inferno" which is bilingual!!!! I think I will buy it very soon because it is very inexpensive! Tomorrow I will do it.

Yep, I have read Machiavelli and many commentaries. His "Discourses" are extemely valuable for understanding the Republican tradition. What have you read by him?
Zarquon3's avatar
I would have to say that the number of high quality books I read in a year go well beyond 0-5, however, in relation to your journal, the one's which have had a truly profound impact and allowed me to fully question and re-examine the fugacious self would amount average about 1 or two a year (perhaps a little higher if I include some of your previous journals! :D ).
Many authors seem to never reach a point where they engage the mind sufficiently enough to provide enlightenment to enjoy that in which I am already immersed or even provide the strength of ideals necessary to develop myself into what I perceive I wish to be. Those that do, however, are even capable of changing that very perception of self and allow a requestioning of previous 'answers'.
Nietzsche (surprise! ;P ), Sun Tzu, Dan Millman ("Way of the Peaceful Warrior"), the stanzas of Budda, Dostoyevsky, William Gibson, Sir A.C. Doyle and even Douglas Adams have left their mark. Not just because they are famous authors (as most of them are ... and for good reason), but because they could provide a new aspect of seeing, through the pages of each text.
Yet by the same token, I was not as taken by Socrates as I was with Plato. Goethe, a hero to many, especially artists, did not resonate with me at all and even Shakespeare, although entertaining, did not open my mind to new possibilities in the same way as lectures of Studia Humanitatis from Renaissence Humanists, for example.
Others, still where directly contrary to what I would hope to achieve. The angry writtings of the Gospels of Paul, meandering scribbles of The Catcher in the Rye or the contrite, self-fantasies of Anne Rice.
I read them none the less.
Is it odd to continue to read books contentious to our goals?
Perhaps not.
Doyle has been frequently quoted "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth". Perhaps learning to identify what we are not is as important as discovering what we will strive to be.

"Do you remember the sensation of reading that book which moved you deeply? Do you remember not being able to put it down?"

Only in books that would be generally 'entertaining' not profound (King doesn't even qualify as entertaing as far as I'm concerned).
I think the most enlightening of books have actually made me take pause while reading to reflect on what I have just read. Even return to the text multiple times. I couldn't even begin to guess how many times I've read "The Art of War".
Better still, on all too infrequent occations, if chance allows the rare opportunity, perhaps I even get a chance to discuss it with others.
And those are the best arguments!
Debates at length to the point that anger and presumption are exhausted, like the shaping of a diamond, until only the perfected and refined self-truth remains of the presented ideal.

Best arguments assuming your collegues will still talk to you afterwards, that is ...

:cowboy: :chainsaw:

"A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions--as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all."
The Gay ScienceFriedrich Neitzsche,
Janny-and-Niniel's avatar
Ufff... After putting myself the courage (ok, I didn't need much courage, I like to read) of reading all of your post I have to say that I ended up sort of surprised. First, this is one of the most interesting comments/essays I have read lately and second, made me think once more about what have I been reading.

Well, I'll start by the end of the text, the book list part, so I can get "rid" of it and let my mind flow about the rest.
Out of that list the only book I can say I've read is Lord of the Rings. And I mean REALLY reading, not just watching the movies or anything... I read it before that. Then there's the Bible, of which I read a few passages, and some books I have been looking forward to read for a while, "García Márquez: El amor en los tiempos del Cólera" (I had no idea this was the spanish title I just recognized it from being similar to the portuguese (me!) one), "Shakespeare: Hamlet", "Thomas Mann: The Magic Mountain" and "Cervantes: Don Quijote de la Mancha". Besides those I recognize classic greek writers and many, many philosophers. But I recall reading in that text something about being questioned by the book (sorry, the text is really big and I can't find it) ... I guess that's what philosophy is about, right? (or at least that's the idea that remained after some Philosophy classes.

To continue writing about your journal post, I have to talk once more about the Philosophy classes. This was the first year I had them and our teacher spend the first classes trying to teach us how to read behind the text, to look at the books at our own eyes instead of just reading. In a sequence to that we read the Alegory of the Cavern (I don't know if this is the correct name but I'm sure that you, as being a very "classical" reader know what I am talking about). After reading that text , the first and only book I have read until now already sounded different. It made me think. I compared experiences with the character in the book. Asked myself what would I do if I was her. Thought about death, and why she had the strenght to keep living, while I never had the courage to comit suicide. The book is called Goodby, Tsugumi by Banana Yoshimoto and I believe that, to the 15 year old I am, that can be called a book of my life. For as few as I lived until now.
I read another books that made me think and I could name them, but they are mostly portuguese.

(now, the comical relief moment is me liking Stephen King... and yes, it's entertaining :\ )

Not to make this comment much bigger that what it already is, I just have to say I loved the way you wrote about emotions and how the books are able to affect our erotic and love life. How the good lovers are the good readers.
I enjoyed that and I feel like "marking" this sentence:

:pointr:"Or think about the following. Do you remember the sensation of reading that book which moved you deeply? Do you remember not being able to put it down? Not even for your naked boyfriend, or girlfriend? “I’ll be right with you, honey,” you might say. It must be a powerful force, within you, which makes you not let go of a book! What could it be?"

I can tell I have already felt that although I can't remember which book was I reading, the "powerfull force" that makes one no let go of a book. The force that makes you have your boyfriend next to you kissing your cheek and playing with your hair and you just answer: "let me finish this chapter" and when he realizes you're already 3 chapters ahead. The force that makes you stay awake until 5a.m. reading, dream about the book and wake up at 7a.m. just to keep reading it.
The force that is contained in all this words makes me shiver now that I think about it :|
After this journal of yours, I feel inside me a urge to read those books you have there.

And well, I have no conclusion to this so
THE END
amelo14's avatar
Thanks Aya for your careful and intelligent response. Your love of books is truly deep and I do hope that you can continue in their company. Specailyl keep on reading Plato. He alone can transform your life forever. Or put another way, if you can learn to read one book seriously and penetratingly, then you will have keys to many others. Likewise you have made me smile as I read. For that I am quite grateful.

Of course many of the books in this list are quite philosophical because this is my background. The Platonic Myth of the Cave is one of the most beautiful artisitic creations ever done. I do hope you can continue with your philosophical studies, in particular thinking that philosophy is a way of life, and not so much a course of work. This is what these books have taught me. Generous professors and amazing universities DO help you; but living a way of life, that only you can do.

Also, I think that an artist could come up with similar lists including literature and other artistic influences. But it is clear to me that the area of aesthetics in philosophy touches deeply on the lives of artists and philosophers. This area is the one where art and philosphy can meet in discussion and creation. All of the philosophers I have taken up are known becasue they deal with art EXTENSIVELY! My intention with these journals is precisely to provide a kind of enticing bridge for some.
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