I read a book, and I read a book in earnest. This distinction is going to be important. Or not. I haven’t decided yet. I read a book in earnest… two, actually. Almost three.
I have been un-medicated for seven weeks now, aside from the occasional slathering of insulin (which is sort of required to keep me semi-alive). In this time I have read parts of the following books with growing enthusiasm- most of them philosophical- or at least as much as I could stand until the general nationalist sentiment began to wear away at my feeble socialist pinkness (seriously, who knew I owned so many books by nationalist authors? Certainly not me. Until I read them). The one I did read all the way through however was Aristotle: a Very Short Introduction, by J. Barnes- and not only because I had reeled in realising I had purchased the book two years ago and hadn’t even creased the spine, but because, for the first time in a long time, I was actually interested in reading about something I knew absolutely nothing about. This surprised me greatly, and even after I’d discovered that Aristotle tended to ignore exceptions to the proverbial rule, and therefore wouldn’t be the ideal person to have a cup of tea with in a strip club, it was still greatly enjoyable, and left me with a new perspective on the aesthetics of fly reproduction, like no literature before.
The 2011 Aristotle receipt, complete with stranger’s lecture notes overleaf.
Interestingly or not, I am currently floating in the tense period between ‘reality’ (purposely in inverted commas), and OCPD reality (purposely acknowledged as the most authentic type of reality by the lack of inverted commas). This past week has essentially not existed while I waited for my schedules to ‘reset’ because something unfathomable went wrong; i.e. everything, everything, starts on the same day and time- the clothes I wear, the cereal I eat, the books I read. This perhaps deserves more explanation, but is quite inexplicable, so I shall instead just provide this meagre link. Non-existence however has meant, in the most simple terms, that I can wear, eat, read just whatever the Hell I bloody well want to. Goddamn.
Further to this then, and inspired by a comment from the wonderful Invisible Mikey (not to mention the general shameful sickness I had felt at not reading the book before), I also purchased the Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath- now the second book I have read in its entirety- and was immediately struck by the similarities between the protagonist Esther and myself. I know it’s fashionable to compare yourself to tragic characters, but I couldn’t help myself; there are the straight As; consequent meaninglessness; the (glorious) hatred of children; the complete lack of direction in a life once, believed to be at least, borderline exceptional; and the… allow me to be vague and blatantly obvious… other stuff. Extraordinarily however I had not felt the familiar pang of writer’s envy in reading the book. I admire completely Plath’s ability to convey very deep emotions in such brief terms- her words are powerfully effective, but instead of experiencing an intense hatred normally reserved for my own shortcomings, instead I have been able to simply enjoy it. Which is like, supercool. My stomach experienced a helping of insanity envy however when [spoilers] Esther was referred for electroshock therapy the first time [can you actually spoil a book generations old?], but at the same time I desperately wanted for her not to be hurt. I felt an urge for her to live like I can never feel for myself. My misery was reflected in the book, and the book bolstered my success in actually allowing myself to read outside of my schedule. Has the distinction become important yet?
Misery is compelling. Have you noticed how I haven’t written anything funny recently? Or really anything at all? I just can’t. Misery is a catalyst, but by its very nature stops the creative process (as though what I do warrants the word ‘process’).
On the way to work I have to walk over a steep bridge, and on Tuesday, a cool blustery morning, the pink of the sky doused in indiscernible fluffy whiteness, reminded me of walking with my grandparents through dewy fields as the sun broke open the barrier of sleep… until at least I descended on the other side and saw the traffic stretching on forever. I had to scratch the burn on my forehead (acquired through hair volumnising failure with heated implements), and so removed my hand from my pocket. As I went to tuck it back in, a raindrop hit the back of my hand and slid down my sleeve. I found it curious that at that exact time, in that segment of the universe, those two things had possibly collided. As I was staring at the spot where the rain had landed, the source of the already thinning stream evaporating from my skin, it happened again, and I realised at once that it wasn’t raining at all… I was infact crying. Two schoolboys I always see on the way to work saw the whole thing, but our two-year mutual silence prevented them from saying anything to me or to each other, and for that I was thankful.
Tomorrow everything will be reset, and I will not be allowed to cry, and I will go back to the beginning of my library which I will never reach the end of, and pick up the first book once more. My boyfriend asked me if I fell out of love with reading because I couldn’t concentrate (pills and thank you), or because I read the same books over and over when I hated them quite bitterly. There is likely some truth in the latter. I do not enjoy reading most of the books I own, but have enjoyed Plath immensely, and even Aristotle… and these I have read completely. Philosophy and History, an expensive hobby at best, can never compare to the yearning I feel for the fiction and graphic novels sitting tantalisingly on my bookshelf. Why can’t I read them? I can barely explain. I suspect it is the lack of sweet medication which is now making me want to reset, more overwhelmingly now than in previous years, and I will. I do not mind about anything at all- the clothes, the music, the way I fall to sleep- but the books. Oh, the books. To be able to read what I desire, when the muses take me, is impossible unless ‘reality’ is waiting in the wings, and therefore naught does matter. It doesn’t make sense for me to simply do as I please. I have read thousands of pages, but I have only read two books in earnest. Nearly three.
Has the distinction become important yet?