Yet Another Preview of “Why You Should Date a Man Who Reads”

Not only is this excerpt longer than the previous excerpt, it is a scanned image out of my notebook, which, if I’m not terribly mistaken, makes this a more authentic reading experience. This might also tip my hand a little bit, revealing that I am, in certain key capacities, very much like the reading man I advised readers, female and male, to not date. Except, as I put it so eloquently to a friend over decaf coffee, “I am kind of like the man who reads from that piece, but I am not a dick.”

 

Ever the hipster, I write only in Moleskines

I’ll leave it at that. And, when reading, please forgive the poor punctuation, the illegible ‘f’ in the sixth line, and the somewhat purple haze hanging over the whole thing.

 

Lessons – 1

[257] The illusion of facts will suffice. [272] Reality-based art hijacks its material and doesn’t apologize. [255] Facts now seem important.

A note to be affixed to the bulletin board. A finding from today's reading.

[255] Facts now seem important.

[150] If Tina Fey’s impression of Sarah Palin hadn’t been based closely on verbatim transcripts of Palin’s performances, it wouldn’t have been remotely funny, and it wouldn’t have affected the election; its comedy derived precisely from its scrupulous reframing of the real.

[256] Facts have gravitas.

[381] In order to make it easier to handle, Darwin would cut a large book in half; he’d also tear out any chapters he didn’t find of interest.

[257] The illusion of facts will suffice.

[272] Reality-based art hijacks its material and doesn’t apologize.

[496] This is the wager, isn’t it? It’s by remaining faithful to the contingencies and peculiarities of your own existence and the vagaries of your own nature that you stand the greatest chance of conveying something universal.

[497] Self-study of any seriousness aspires to myth. Thus do we endlessly inscribe and magnify ourselves.

[498] A man’s life of any worth is a continual allegory.

[499] What is true in your private heart is true for all men.

[500] All our stories are the same.

[501] Every man has within himself the entire human condition.

[502] Deep down, you know you’re him.

_____________________________

Some recognition goes to David Shield’s book, Reality Hunger, for providing these chewy didactic bits. This in spite of [259]. If “Genius borrows nobly”, I hope to have a little of it, genius–his or otherwise–rub off on me.

A Quick Thought On Awesome

I want to find something awesome, you know, in the 19th century sense of the word ‘Awesome’. I’ve never really sat in awe of anything before. In finding what I find awesome, I will find what I want to do with my life.

I had a phone conversation with a friend of mine, Ted Gonder, about the end of autumn quarter, the inexcusable humanitarian atrocities perpetrated against students during finals week by the University of Chicago, and our plans for the Christmas holiday. Somewhere in there, conversation drifted to one of those very collegiate “what do you want to do when you grow up?” kind of exchanges. I am to a certain extent envious of Ted, because he knows, or at least has a ballpark estimate, of what he wants to do.

I don’t. I’m interested in approximately fifty bajillion things, ranging from 19th-20th century British and American history, astrophysics, cosmology, American literature old and new, psychology and cognition, and, for good measure, some finance, entrepreneurship, and not-for-profit work (because I like to pretend I’m a good person every once in awhile). I came to the following realization:

“I want to find something awesome, you know, in the 19th century, romantic sense of the word ‘Awesome’. I’ve never really sat in awe of anything before.  In finding what I find awesome, I will find what I want to do with my life.”

Unfortunately, for me, for now, I am not easily impressed by much. That will have to change.

A longer post, along The Halcyon Days’s vein of early summertime college apathy, is in the works.

My Favorite Books of the Summer Thus Far, pt. 1

For some, summer is a time to take on an internship, to travel, to spend time with friends and (if so inclined) family. For me, summer is about reading the books that the University of Chicago’s rather absurdly demanding curriculum precludes me from reading during the year. This is not to say that I don’t read during the academic year, it’s just that I’m not afforded the opportunity to read as voluminously as I’m otherwise inclined to.

Below is a list (complete with critical blurbs) of two of my favorites from the summer thus far:

Gain, by Richard Powers, 355 pp. Picador USA, 1998

Gain is the story of a woman and a company, it is one of growth and alienation. It is cold, corporate, and clinical. The novel traces the development of a fictitious company, Clare, from its humble beginnings as a soap and candle manufacturer and importer to its pervasive, expansive, Unilever-esque logical conclusion. Intertwined with this is the narrative of a woman, Laura Bodey, and her daily life in the bucolic exurban town of Lacewood, IL, which just so happens to be the home of a Clare manufacturing facility. As the twin plot lines unfold and spin themselves together, the reader notices that with the growth of one comes the decline of the other. Gain gives hints of genuine emotion, and there are moments of palpable nostalgia and sentimentality (especially in the development of Clare), but the reader is left with a feeling of corporate detachment. A poignant commentary on corporate personhood, the ethics of business development, and the alienating power of marketing, rural existence, and physical and psychological decline, Gain is a must read for those interested in ethics, entrepreneurship, or the lexical workings of the “Genius Grant” recipient, Powers.

This Side of Paradise, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. 248 pp. Library of America, 2000

An ebullient, skittering mess of a book, This Side of Paradise is the perfect novel for those that don’t read books (i.e. young people nowadays). Although most young people are first exposed to Fitzgerald in high school with the reading of The Great Gatsby, this novel, published when its author was just twenty three years old, provides a more applicable and personal meditation on the innocent pleasures of blasé youth, and the deep, adult pleasures of shedding that innocence piece by piece. The extent to which This Side of Paradise is thinly veiled memoir is unclear, though it must be said that the degree of verisimilitude between Fitzgerald and TSOP’s protagonist, Amory Blaine, is striking. Tracing Amory’s personal and intellectual growth from impetuous and pompous youth into literary snobbery during his first two years at Princeton into a real hurricane of a dalliance with a young debutanté into slow decay into post-college alcoholic turpitude and finally into what now might be referred to as indignant “adulthood,” TSOP sloshes about from one scene to another, mixing poetry, epistolary narrative, a peculiar quasi-drama in the form of a script, and careful reference to the dead white males that formed the backbone of the Jazz Age’s literary cannon. It left me with a sense of giddy self-recognition. I, like most young men, am, in whole or in part, Amory Blaine: restless, reluctantly realistic, wistful, and itching for success, the actualization of my closely-held overinflated notions of greatness. With this recognition comes the following fear: that I, like Amory, might eventually come upon realism, and, with it, resignation to the path more traveled.