21 August 2007

More Books

Today, just for fun, I made a list of all the books I've read just for fun this year. This is a big deal for me, because up until this year I have read books for two reasons:
1. I was supposed to for a class.
2. I had to convince and console myself that yes, I am cultured.

It has been years since I read for the latter reason. Nearly a decade, actually. I can think one other time when I was bored out of my mind and started picking up books because I couldn't think of anything else to do. Yeah. Those days are long gone. It sure is nice to have such sweet memories.

I'm not reading out of boredom these days. I just really like to read, and I think that has to do with my Thesis. Since I've had so much practice rewriting my Thesis I am now a really great rewriter, so I sometimes rewrite books as I'm reading them. I let myself think things like, "this is an intelligent idea but it needs to be further developed" or "this is an interesting sort of character, but he isn't entirely believable and that's preventing me from caring if he lives or dies right now" or "this ending is totally unsatisfactory because the book really ended a chapter ago and all this here is worthless".

And since I mentioned my Thesis, I'll just add one bit more. It isn't done. But here are three books that I've read some or all of this year not for fun, but for my research. They've been useful.

Tangled Memories by Marita Sturken
Remembering War the American Way by G. Kurt Piehler
Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag

Even though these are not books I have read for fun, I've still rewritten them as I go. For example, I have wondered for quite a while how I would have rewritten this section of Regarding the Pain of Others:

. . . it seems a good in itself to acknowledge, to have enlarged, one's sense of how much suffering caused by human wickedness there is in the world we share with others. Someone who is perennially surprised that depravity exists, who continues to feel disillusioned (even incredulous) when confronted with evidence of what humans are capable of inflicting in the way of gruesome, hands-on cruelties upon other humans, has not reached moral or psychological adulthood.
No one after a certain age has a right to this kind of innocence, of superficiality, to this degree of ignorance, or amnesia.

Yeah. I'm not sure how I would rewrite that, only that I really definitely would. It has become a speed-bump in an otherwise easy read. I get to that section and I wonder about it and I eventually go around in circles, which bears a remarkable resemblance to what I've been doing with my Thesis.


grandpa dan said...

Hmmm, interesting quote. Maybe a rewrite like "grow up, wake up, and look around dummy". It is good to see you posting again. 1433

Mary Ann said...

yeah, that'd be one way to do it.

joe said...

i do not believe that reaching psychological adulthood entails losing the capacity for empathy. quite the opposite.