I am surrounded by an empire of unread and partially read books. Titles like: The Denial of Death (read), A Thousand Plateaus (God, I tried), The Family (Manson phase), The Hero with a Thousand Faces (skimmed hard), Gravity’s Rainbow (nope), and The Illuminatus! Trilogy (of course). There are several bibles, The Aeneid, The Odyssey, The Anthology of American Poetry. I have Freud, Reich, Barthes, Fromm, Spinoza, Plato, Hunter S., DeLillo, Bangs, Benjamin, graphic novels, Hellblazer comics, beat poetry, cookbooks.
I am not bragging. I am embarrassed. Most of the books I have are indicators of my insecurity. I really wanted to be an intellectual. I really wanted to understand Sartre. I thought that was what made people smart. I have tried to read Being and Nothingness no fewer than twenty times in my life. I really thought that every answer had to be in that book . Maybe it is. The truth is, I can’t read anything with any distance. **Every book is a self-help book to me. Just having them makes me feel better. I underline profusely but I don’t retain much. Reading is like a drug. When I am reading from these books it feels like I am thinking what is being read, and that gives me a rush. That is enough. I glean what I can. I finish some of the unfinished thoughts lingering around in my head by adding the thoughts of geniuses and I build from there.** There are bookmarks in most of the denser tomes at around page 20 to 40 because that was where I said, “I get it.” Then I put them back on the shelf.