Friday, January 31, 2014

Reading Is Magic for Muggles!

[In trying to find a clever title for this post, I Googled "reading slogans" and some of them are exactly as lame as I remember from my elementary school library. This list. Egh.]

One of the things I love most about learning, especially learning in multiple fields, is how everything winds together. This week we read Plato in one of my classes, and were discussing the allegory of the cave; I mentioned in class that if you come from a film studies background, the allegory of the cave is always where you start, because that's what cinema IS. Two or three of the students turned around in their chairs to look at me, and although they could have been thinking "God, shut up," or "You are such a suckup," I think (from their faces) that they were thinking "Wow, I didn't put that together, but it is so cool."

It is! School is cool! And it's remarkable to me the way that philosophy verges on language verges on linguistics verges on math verges on philosophy. That's a tiny circle, but it can get bigger very easily, because everything does connect. You can interpret the allegory of the cave, just to take one particular foundation of Western thought, in any of a dozen fields of study and I'm pretty sure it will shed light (heh) on all of them in some way.

Sigh. Learning is so dreamy.

I've ended up with two classes this semester instead of three: Major American Novels II and Hybrid in Narrative. One is a very standard, straightforward class on...major American novels and the other one deals in experimental lit, both reading and writing. I believe that they will reflect very interestingly on each other. There have already been connections, of course, barely two weeks in. I'm bummed out about not getting into either of the other two classes I was gunning for, but them's the breaks.

We began in Novels with The Sun Also Rises, which I tried to read in my high school years and which bored me so horribly that I went back to...jeez, what was I reading then? García Márquez? I found it a lot easier to read this time, but I don't think I'll ever really love Hemingway. Some of the other students in the class also found the book boring. Next is As I Lay Dying, which I've read and liked, and I'm kind of giddy with anticipation about what the folks who haven't read any Faulkner are going to think of it. Some of them are going to hate the shit out of it, and I can't wait to hear about that.

Incidentally, at the beginning of 2014, I started a paper journal to record my impressions of all the things I take in: books, movies, operas, etc. In part I did this to keep those opinions away from this space, because I was using them as an excuse to put up posts on days when I couldn't think of anything to write about. In part I did this to collect all my intake in a way that is actually easier to index and recall than what I have here. (The search box on this site is so unreliable that I kind of can't believe it.) And a third part was that I could write as much as I wanted about books and movies, without worry that I'd bore anyone but myself; the piper to pay is that I have to write it all by hand. 

So I've been reading at the same pace as ever, but talking about it somewhere else. In January I've read some Ann Patchett, some Robert Stone, Mary Gaitskill's first novel, a biography of David Foster Wallace, a fascinating novel by Lionel Shriver, etc. And I did a ten-day marathon of all six original-series Star Trek movies, about which I had a lot to say. But I feel far better organized when I divide my life into separate boxes rather than tangling it all together.

Of course in reality it all goes together, like all the fields of inquiry do. But that doesn't mean you're as interested in the whole pattern as I am.

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