Saturday, June 26, 2004

Ep = mhg

Apparently, a person who loves books and a person who questions what they read are two entirely different breeds. That is to say, people who read voraciously do so to compensate for their own inherent emptyheadedness, whereas other people who read selectively do not unquestioningly forge through the prose they are reading willy-nilly, not accepting everything they confront at face value. This mutual exclusivity doesn't really make sense to me. One problem is that Nehring makes no differentiation between a physical object and a mental process, namely books and reading, respectively. Further, she doesn't elaborate on the type of books that these so-called "book lovers" are reading, only making reference to a Hemingway novella, and current non-fiction relating to extreme behaviour and neo-conservatism [perhaps one and the same?]. Granted, there is nothing edifying about any of these, but it is also not fair to suggest that "book lovers" read anything and everything. And who are these "book lovers" anyway? Are they the middle-aged woman riding on the subway reading the dog-eared, mass-market paperback, or are they the dishevelled twentysomething at the local pub trying to finish Ulysses by Bloomsday? And while I'm asking unanswerable questions, is the "book lover" and the bibliophile one and the same?

While it may seem like a foregone conclusion that the book's sole purpose is that it be read, it is arguably the book's physicality that renders the bibliophile weak in the knees when in the vicinity of a bookstore or library. As a person who practices book idolatry on a regular basis, the potential that any given volume on a shelf holds is often more valuable than what is eventually found within when the book is finally relieved from its verticality. But this is of no consequence to the book lover. Sometimes it is just enough to sit in a comfortable chair next to a coveted, filled-to-capacity bookcase, and simply take in the view: books of different heights, different widths, different colours, different genres, all with different sentimental attachments...

Perhaps I am missing the point. Nehring's bottom line seems to be that it is better to read with a critical mind than to substitute the content of a book for one's own sorely lacking grey matter. But what hope is there for those of us who don't have the capacity to form an opinion and just salivate like a Pavlovian dog whenever the new bestseller lists are released? Indeed, what hope is there for those other few of us who find the potential energy of a book more enticing than its kinetic energy? I'm struck dumb just thinking about it.

Comments: Post a Comment


This page is powered by Blogger

Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com