Why should reading be difficult, if not confrontational?
Because reading a book like Ulysses by James Joyce is an accomplishment and a unique experience. It’s not easy and isn’t meant to be. Another example might be Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose.
That being said, these example books aren’t for everybody, and not everyone has the desire or wants to climb Mount Everest either. What of literature? When we can get a steady stream of watered-down words, why read it at all? I remember sitting in my English class at university and other students looking for shortcuts and explanations, not enjoying the challenge of chewing on words and trying to figure it out by actually reading the assigned books.
Students (and universities) have changed a lot since then.
When the logic of capitalism means universities are run as businesses, much is lost.
Reclaiming literature is crucial to understanding the times we live in.
‘The difficulty is the point’: teaching spoon-fed students how to really read
by Tegan Bennett Daylight
Pessoa was to have an extraordinary afterlife, as he prophesied in his poem “If I Die Young”: “roots may be hidden in the ground / But their flowers flower in the open air for all to see. / It must be so. Nothing can prevent it.” Among his belongings when he died was a large trunk, containing more than twenty-five thousand manuscript pages—the product of a lifetime of nearly graphomaniacal productivity.
Fernando Pessoa’s Disappearing Act
“Bradbury, who never used a computer or drove a car (and believed automobiles more dangerous than war), could be described by a little-known word in English derived from Portuguese, nefelibata: one who walks in the clouds. For better or for worse, we don’t as yet live in the future he imagined, and his predictions and screeds can feel quaint, if not ingenuous or tone-deaf, today. Yet at its best, his work is so imaginative that I feel able to drift off, up, for a bit, and dream.”
On the Dark, Wondrous Optimism of Ray Bradbury, By Gabrielle Bellot
According to The Independent:
Marshall McLuhan might have been one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century. But he was one of its most terrible actors.
As well as being famous for his theories, many of which are known by catchy phrases like ‘the medium is the message, Professor McLuhan was also a guest star in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall.
Marshall McLuhan: Remembering the philosopher’s bizarre, unplanned Annie Hall appearance
Here are a few quotable gems from the McLuhan archive:
“We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.”
This is a good one to think about when you’re texting your friend while walking across a crowded crosswalk in an intersection.
“Art is anything you can get away with.”
The latest David Lynch resurrection of Twin Peaks 25 years later, for example. Or most stuff in art galleries.
“The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village.”
Yes, he was the one who came up with the idea of the ‘global village.’ Hello Internet.
“All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values.”
Adrienne Rich, as a poet, essayist and feminist activist, held strong to her convictions. Here is some ‘life advice’ from her, which has resonated even more crucially as counterbalance to the current political climate.
“Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work … you don’t fall for shallow and easy solutions…”
Life Advice from Adrienne Rich – LitHub
A Kite is a Victim
By Leonard Cohen
From: The Spice-Box of Earth
A kite is a victim you are sure of.
You love it because it pulls
gentle enough to call you master,
strong enough to call you fool;
because it lives
like a desperate trained falcon
in the high sweet air,
and you can always haul it down
to tame it in your drawer.
A kite is a fish you have already caught
in a pool where no fish come,
so you play him carefully and long,
and hope he won’t give up,
or the wind die down.
A kite is the last poem you’ve written,
so you give it to the wind,
but you don’t let it go
until someone finds you
something else to do.
A kite is a contract of glory
that must be made with the sun,
so make friends with the field
the river and the wind,
then you pray the whole cold night before,
under the travelling cordless moon,
to make you worthy and lyric and pure.
Legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen passed away on November 10, 2016.
Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
The Crack In Everything Widens: A Dirge For Leonard Cohen By Sezin Koehler
Photo from: www.leonardcohen.com