I cannot remember the last book I read from cover to cover…
by Andrew Taggart
I cannot remember the last book I read from cover to cover. On the chest beside the bed, I see a small number of books with bookmarks jutting out from the middle. In the past month, I am not sure that I have read any books save some poems by Whitman and Lorca. Yesterday when I thought of writing something about my laxity with respect to reading, I looked halfheartedly for one of William Wordsworth’s poems on the priority of experience over books but could not find it. Google was no help, so I decided to begin the piece without the aid of Wordsworth.
I doubt I have the leisure anymore to spend a summer alone with Heidegger’s Being and Time or Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. My philosophy practice takes up too much of my time to make, as it is said, embarking on an ambitious new project a worthwhile adventure. Besides, the summer is more over than begun, more fall than spring, cider than tulips. I doubt also what the purpose of the book is in contemporary culture, but this I have said before. Conceivably, too, I have lost interest in ‘the world,’ if this abstraction is understood to lie well beyond the ambit of my senses. In light of these doubts and doubtless others, I would much rather write love letters and have conversations and lucubrate and drink wine in a bathtub.
I need hardly remind myself that I am no longer a scholar; that I do not read for the purpose of passing the time; that an afternoon in nature may be more edifying than one spent in an uncomfortable armchair. Still, my apathy toward reading books, which also extends to articles, magazines, and newspapers, is novel and fresh even if it is neither painful nor unsettling. Novel and fresh but not beguiling.
I know better. Perhaps it is that I have discovered another way of living, one that fills my hunger for élan with silence, spare spoken words, and promenades. Must I ask for more or, for once, is summer just the season it is?