I haven’t been able to read for pleasure in 4 years. It will be at least another two before I’m done. Oh, I read novels, sure. I read them on winter break or on summer nights when I can afford it and I manage to hold the anxiety about publishing off for a week or so. But even then, I read literature that I’ve been told to read. I read Proust, Stendhal, or Joyce. I choose these because some wise professor with good taste has told me that they are the literary manifestation of an idea I’m developing in my dissertation. EVERYTHING is subordinated to the goal of this one passport into a dying world that doesn’t really have room for me.
Don’t get me wrong. I like Stendhal. I like Proust. But I want to read the fucking LOTR, or Harry Potter, or the Outlander series. I want to read the books of my childhood and see them from the perspective of my adulthood. I want to read more Milan Kundera, I want to read that Cheryl Strayed novel that become the film that moved me to breathless tears. I want to peruse fan fiction these days. I want to read with frivolous abandon, a beach novel, a romance or detective plot that will never, couldn’t ever be used in some erudite conversation about Heidegger. I want to read for the joy of language and the awesome power of the human imagination to become worded in the absence of sensations save those it produces from within.
I know this is kind of obnoxious. How nice not to have time for reading because I’m too busy reading. Cry me a fucking river, right? But I’m pissed because it shouldn’t have to be this way. Culture becomes stratified in all kinds of competely arbitrary ways. the fact that I feel guilty spending reading time with something that hasn’t been mentioned in the Continental Philosophy Review within the last 20 years is a sign that something is deeply wrongly in academia.
That’s it. My completely bratty tantrum for this week.