Monday, September 6, 2010

Process ~ Introverted Saturday, Coffee, Books

Yesterday was a wonderfully introverted day. I woke and wrote my “morning pages,” made a cup of coffee and settled into reading blogs, and then I knew it would be a pure reading day. A day off from school work, which I too am enjoying, but it was nice to take a break.

I visited with a friend the previous day and we’re both reading Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. He had mentioned a week prior that he started to read it and was really enjoying it. I told him that I had read a few of Murakami’s short story’s and had wanted to read one of his novels, but hadn’t gotten around to it. Talking about it with him, I got exited, and I wasn’t already committed to any one book, so I checked it out from the library. When we met yesterday for coffee, I was only 67 pages into it and he was already at page 200, so I was able to give my impressions so far and we talked only up to the point I had read. It’s an interesting story, with many strange coincidences. I wish that I knew how it read in the original Japanese because I’m imagining that there are some additional nuances that probably don’t translate over. It’s just a hunch. Nevertheless, I am enjoying the ride—and it does feel very much like an adventure with many messages embedded within the connecting story’s.

I made more progress yesterday on The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, but I found that I needed a break from the story. I decided to revisit a book called, Books that Changed the World. Because of a conversation I had, I decided to read the chapter on Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams. And then I pulled out the slender, A Primer of Freudian Psychology. I was specifically interested in re-reading about the Ego and how it works together with the Id and the Superego. I feel that the term Ego is often taken out of its original context and is often used to point out the negative aspect of our personalities. It’s true that if the Id, Ego, and Superego are not working in harmony, things can grow out of control, but on the whole I feel the concept of Ego is misused. That’s just my opinion and I’ve thought of exploring this separately with examples.

I suppose my mind was taking advantage of having a day of choices. I peeked into a couple other books: Ten Theories of Human Nature. I immediately went to the section on Plato and randomly read a few paragraphs on his theory of forms, which I have always found fascinating. I enjoy the process of taking small bits and digesting them, inviting them into my consciousness to see how they will meet with other writings I enjoy, or even with how I go about my days. Some things I can only take in small doses. Next I took a look at The Inner West: An Introduction to the Hidden Wisdom of the West. I jumped to certain parts and began reading. I jumped around, got lured into a few, but never stayed too long in any one part.

Was it the combination of this conversation over coffee and reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, that had me begin pulling these different books out? The last one I pulled and decided to read where I left off months ago, was a novel by Jostein Gaarder called The Solitaire Mystery. It seemed in my mind to go along with the good strangeness of Murakami’s novel. I learned that there is a Japanese word for this called “Myo.” I first learned about this word in Lydia Minatoya’s novel, The Strangeness of Beauty. There is a passage in her novel where she describes this word, “myo”, as “The art of creating ‘strange beauty.’” I began this one in July, but I have the bookmark in it, ready to come back to it. It is a novel to be absorbed and one that I want to savor.

When my friend and I were talking about literature, I was ashamed to say that I have not read any Steinbeck. He was required reading in high school, but I didn’t enjoy high school, and literature and reading hadn’t yet entered my life in a significant way. It was not something I had any interest in. When I did start reading, it seized me, but I chose to read what I wanted and for some reason I had it in my mind that I would read European writers because I felt they would have a depth to them that matched what I was capable of feeling inside. Even if I could not relate to the specific experiences, I would be able to connect to the feelings of loneliness, isolation, and whatever deep dark feelings these characters experienced. I bypassed many American writers until I began taking more English courses. As the years have gone on, I have picked up books with the intention of hopefully one day actually reading them. I liked having them, so if a flash came, I could go to the shelves and get what I wanted. And so yesterday, I knew I had picked up a Steinbeck book, but I couldn’t remember which one. I went to the shelf and found The Pearl. Because I was on a reading buzz yesterday, I took it to my reading spot, and began reading. It’s a slim book of only 118 pages. I was immediately hooked with the writing, the characters, the story. And a bonus for me was that it took place in the fishing village of Nayarit, Mexico, where my grandmother was born. It softened my heart immediately and made me want to read the story that much more. I didn’t want to finish it in one setting, so I set it aside, knowing that some time today or tomorrow I would finish it. It’s a sad story really. The subject manner is indeed timeless, relevant. If I were an English teacher, this would be a novel I’d like to teach. It may not seem to have a whole lot going on, but I feel that what it does offer is something that we should never lose sight of, and I will leave it at that.

This morning, I continued on with Murakami’s novel and it’s getting more interesting with each chapter. I then went to my shelf again and scanned it. Another shame: I’ve never read any Jack London! So, I pulled The Call of the Wild and Selected Stories and decided I would try to read a little from it today. Since he was born in San Francisco, near enough to the area where I live, I feel that I should become acquainted with him. I don’t like the word should, but in this case it feels appropriate. Not only that, as a person that loves nature and animals, I think I will appreciate his writing very much.

And so, tomorrow, I won’t have as much leisure time when I go back to work and the school week begins again. It sure does make one appreciate spending a day immersed in all sorts of books. I didn’t leave the house all day yesterday. I almost did because I wanted fresh tamales from the market. I resisted though—didn’t want to break my flow. I was able to find things to eat, even though I need to go grocery shopping. That could have posed a real problem.

Today, though, I will venture out and breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the after effects of visiting so many worlds yesterday.


Vincent said...

What an interesting collection of books! I like to do that sometimes, have an orgy or overdose of reading but usually I don't have enough books around. I can't afford to buy new ones (or so I tell myself) but there are libraries, charity shops and second-hand through Alibris and Amazon.

Agree with you on the ego. I can't see that there are any negative components in a human being, or any creature.

There are huge numbers of authors I have never read but I have no shame about it. Steinbeck I like, his novellas Of mice and men and Cannery Row for example.

Rebb said...

Vincent, I can’t really afford to buy new ones either. In fact, the credit card I’m still paying off, probably has remnants of books bought on it from so long ago. I’m much more under control now. Every now and then I will splurge and buy new, but usually I also buy books in charity shops or used—and yes, the library too. Sometimes our libraries have book sales too. Good books for .50 cents and $1. And I love coming home with stacks from the library. I’ve collected a variety of books over the years. I was afraid that if I didn’t get them then and there, I would forget. I’ve even written titles down while in the store. Sometimes I go back and sometimes not. Many of the books in my shelves have not been read because when I bought them, I knew there would be a time. And that’s part of the fun: Browsing one’s own shelves to find a book to read depending on the mood and occasion. Just imaging what’s in the pages brings joy to my being. I’ve also realized that some books I didn’t want anymore and gave them away or sold them for trade. It’s interesting how we buy books at one point thinking we’ll want to read it, only to come to find out, either we changed or our perception of the book changed.

True, I shouldn’t have shame at not having read certain authors. I’d like to read “Cannery Row.”