04 diciembre 2008

on getting a face

thought one: wherein i resolve to forget all the right books

i hereby give up the attempt to become an educated person, in the sense of aspiring to read "all the right books."

i'll probably never touch Das Kapital again, let alone read it aloud for entertainment in exile one day. i hate greek mythology; oedipus, odysseus, hercules et al. can live out their dreary, powerless literary existences without me. i'll probably skip all the other greeks and latins too; just so long as lewis and co. have read them, their synthesis is good enough for me. and i'll wiki On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, thank you very much. good-bye, hopes of imbibing don quixote, Locke and Voltaire. i shan't miss you, Rousseau, Kant, and Joyce.

i'm not knocking these books at all, or the aspiriation of erudition. i just feel the need to be realistic: there are many books. i have only so much time (and if everything goes according to plan, i'll have more so now than ever again in my life.)

there are books i need to read, whose meaning has been enduring, style has been timeless, and wisdom greatly beneficial across the ages. and i hope to read those books. i love good books, and the good books i read might just happen to be "the good books." but my reading of them won't be because Mortimer Adler or thecollegeboard told me to do so.

very possibly, it will be because some 14 year old homeschooler used her "serious" voice, (eyebrows raised for emphasis) and employed several well placed verbal exclamation points to tell me a book i must read.

then, i'll probably try to some day. like, the next day, if she makes me borrow it. and then, in the spirit of if you give a mouse a cookie, [after your time, after your time] i'll probably stay up way too late on a work night reading it, stay awake thinking about it, and then blow off all studying the next evening to read it some more, only to end up in tears at about 12:15 the next a.m., totally and completely GOT by the unreliable narrator revealed in part ii. oh, it was beautiful. i hope to finish tonight. it's a good book; it's one of the good books of modern times, i would think. but that's just coincidence. well, "coincidence" except for the fact that, yeah, it's lewis.

c.s. lewis: till we have faces. get it in you soon.

thought two: till, continued

what i can't get over about the book, besides the lyricism, allusions ("I am afraid-- no, I am ashamed-- to disobey him." -- "Then, even at the best, look what you make of him! Something worse than our father. Who that loved you could be angry at your breaking so unreasonable a command-- and for so good a reason?"), typical brit wit and wisdom, and the fact that lewis is writing very credibly from a woman's perspective, is that this is a greek myth retold. and, as was afore mentioned, i have no great love for the greeks.

but lewis (praised by the new york times) makes a myth, set in a pre-Christian pagan setting, say exactly what he wants it to say.

(and we like what lewis wants books to say. especially because he likes parenthesis almost as much as we... errr... i do.)

thought three: a snippet
after the first chapter, i was too involved to copy quotes. (i don't read a lot of novels; it took me off guard.)

~~" 'If a man can teach a girl, he can teach anything... Especially the elder. See if you can make her wise; it's about all she'll ever be good for.' I didn't understand that, but I knew it was like things I had heard people say of me ever since I could remember."

~~" 'No man can be an exile if he remembers that all the world is one city...' But I think what really kept him cheerful was his inquisitiveness. I never knew such a man for questions."

~~"For I was now old enough to know that a man (above all, a Greek man) can find comfort in the words coming out of his own mouth. But i was glad to hear them, too."

~~"Even my ugliness I could not quite believe in. Who could feel ugly when the heart meets delight?"

~~ "Die before you die. There is no chance after."

~~ " 'Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that's the whole art and joy of words.'
A glib saying. When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you'll not talk about the joy of words.
I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?"