— Stephen Jay Gould (via faganchelsea)
"A novel is a two-way street, in which the labour required on either side is, in the end, equal. Reading, done properly, is every bit as tough as writing - I really believe that. As for those people who align reading with the essentially passive experience of watching television, they only wish to debase reading and readers. The more accurate analogy is that of the amateur musician placing her sheet music on the stand and preparing to play. She must use her own, hard-won, skills to play this piece of music. The greater the skill, the greater the gift she gives the composer and the composer gives her.
This is a conception of “reading” we rarely hear now. And yet, when you practise reading, when you spend time with a book, the old moral of effort and reward is undeniable. Reading is a skill and an art and readers should take pride in their abilities and have no shame in cultivating them if for no other reason than the fact that writers need you. To respond to the ideal writer takes an ideal reader, the type of reader who is open enough to allow into their own mind a picture of human consciousness so radically different from their own as to be almost offensive to reason. The ideal reader steps up to the plate of the writer’s style so that together writer and reader might hit the ball out of the park.
What I’m saying is, a reader must have talent. Quite a lot of talent, actually, because even the most talented reader will find much of the land of literature tricky terrain. For how many of us feel the world to be as Kafka felt it, too impossibly foreshortened to ride from one village to the next? Or can imagine a world without nouns, as Borges did? How many are willing to be as emotionally generous as Dickens, or to take religious faith as seriously as did Graham Greene? Who among us have Zora Neale Hurston’s capacity for joy or Douglas Coupland’s strong stomach for the future? Who has the delicacy to tease out Flaubert’s faintest nuance, or the patience and the will to follow David Foster Wallace down his intricate recursive spirals of thought? The skills that it takes to write it are required to read it. Readers fail writers just as often as writers fail readers. Readers fail when they allow themselves to believe the old mantra that fiction is the thing you relate to and writers the amenable people you seek out when you want to have your own version of the world confirmed and reinforced. That is certainly one of the many things fiction can do, but it’s a conjurer’s trick within a far deeper magic. To become better readers and writers we have to ask of each other a little bit more.”
1. It’s 2:17am. I can’t sleep. The caffeine in the ginormous cup of cappuccino I had this afternoon is still working hard at depriving me of sleep. i just killed a beetle with a Niger Slater book.
2. I wonder if our lives have meaning because people are watching us all the time. If our lives were reality tv shows, I’d like to imagine that my life is a combination of The Hunger Games and America’s Next Top model because you know every day feels like a frenzied bloodfest and err I have Jennifer Lawrence’s facial features and Mike Tyson’s body.
3. Wrote a postcard to myself.
1. I’ve always prided myself on being fiercely individualistic(yeah someone told me that I need to start thinking of myself as fiercely individualistic and not weird so okay I’m fiercely individualistic) but recently I’ve come to the sobering conclusion that I need to be controlled and directed and manipulated otherwise my life would come to a screeching halt and I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. Now that school has ended I find myself drowning in a pool of freedom everyday. I should be happy right but no I’ve been conditioned to loathe freedom. Today I woke up and I was so overwhelmed by the ten thousand and one things that I could do with my time that I went back to sleep and when i finally decided to go to the airport to get some reading done I felt so guilty for reading Bridget Jones instead of I don’t know Romeo and Juliet to prepare myself for next year I started to hate myself for drinking so much coffee for the past few days and then I started to feel grateful that my kidneys have not exploded and then my head started to spin and I just wanted to hop onto multiple planes and get stuck in a grey area between different time zones. I’M GOING CRAYCRAY.
2. I think an essential part of growing up is accepting that you’re insignificant. This is why I took so long to accept that I’m no longer 16. i always had this nagging sensation that there was something more to my life; that all the humdrum mundane things that I had to get through each were just preliminaries to some grand nirvana moment but i’m becoming more and more convinced that maybe my life is and will continue to be a haphazard combination of humdrum mundane things.