Tuesday, November 15, 2011


For those of you who are “seasonally affected”, I made a discovery today. Maybe it’s not something all that new, but I hadn’t really thought about it before. This morning was overcast, but I was driving to work as the sun was coming up, and you could see that brilliant line of pink and orange at the horizon. It occurred to me that this can also be seen at sunset on cloudy days. So—go outside at sunset, or get up at sunrise if you hate cloudy weather.

I am not terribly affected by the weather, though my thoughts do move faster on sunny days. This can be good or bad—I could write an entire story, or waste an entire day yammering to myself, and not really focus on anything useful. At work, I talk to myself almost non-stop. I’d hate to be my co-workers on those days.
Speaking of words and distractions, I took an inventory of my reading material last night, and realized that I am about halfway through four different books (non-fiction), and would like to start a fifth book (fiction). I used to reliably plod my way through one book before starting another, but I seem to have literature commitment difficulties these days.

Part of the trouble is that I’m a writer, and one who has not written much except these blog postings for the last month. I reach points in my work where I have to read in order to write. My mind plays the same boring things over and over again, and I need to get fresh perspective.

When I was in Bristol, John Foxx and I talked about the next tour stop, Manchester. He advised me to visit St. Ann’s Square if I had time. “There are 2 bookstores there,” he said. I wondered how he knew that the bookstore was the first place I looked for in any city. He made a face, and said, “Well, if you’re civilised, then you read.”

One of the first things to come up in last week’s conversation with Umberto Eco at NYPL was the idea of being well-read. Eco, like Pierre Bayard, says that it is impossible to read everything, and much of the time people fake being well-read. There is a sense that in order to do a book justice, you need to cultivate an awareness of every word. In reality, you only do this when you really love a book, and want to re-read it. When I look at lists of books I “ought” to have read, I sometimes feel ashamed, like they are acquaintances I should have spent more time getting to know. But—like distant friends and family, it’s hard to sit down and “write that long letter to catch up”. In a world of Facebook and Twitter updates, it’s no wonder we’ve developed a fondness for 140 characters or less. There just isn’t time.

I realize that my own blog postings are often very long, so I should take my own advice with regard to time. Still, I can’t shake the idea that I’m cheating my readers with short posts. Readers and reading are like friends, and I don’t want to cheat my friends by not giving them enough attention. Then again, a lot of people tell me they’ll read my posts “when they have time”, which is code for “it’s too long to read in 2 minutes.” (Kind of like my e-mails to a certain unnamed person, who only tends to respond if I send a one-sentence e-mail.)

So, in the interest of not droning on, I will leave you with an Onion article about reading:

Area Eccentric Reads Entire Book

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