In The Poetics of Reverie, Bachelard writes of reveries on words, then moves to reveries on reveries themselves, which brings him to books. Books (philosophy, fiction, and poetry books in particular) are, for Bachelard, a kind of dream made real. Books are places to dawdle and to dream as one reads, places in which the reader can interact with imagination: the reader’s imagination, not the author’s imagination. The author’s work, if it is great, tempts readers into reverie. For this reason, Bachelard says he likes to read his favorite books many times. Each reading produces new reverie.
Re-reading & reverie Ann E. Michaels on Bachelard, re-reading and reverie
I’ve been posting about books that I love in spite of–or because of–their challenging material in terms of philosophical thinking or complex scientific explanations. It occurs to me there are other forms of “difficult,” and that topic is yet another challenge for the reader to encounter. These are books I found hard to read because of subject matter, events, descriptions of things I cannot imagine, or maybe can imagine, facing.
But I will hearken again to something I heard Marilynne Robinson talk about (see my previous post on AWP). She suggested that literature teaches us compassion. Good art of any kind opens up a new kind of perspective, one that thrusts us out of our own comfortable, individual points of view and therefore allows us–in the safety of our own homes, secure in the knowledge that this is only a book and is not happening to us–to engage with the “other.” When we feel empathy for a problematic character, when we feel we understand another person’s plight, even a fictional person, we move away from narcissistic isolation and into engagement with other beings. And that is compassion.
And that is also art.
A different kind of difficult book « annemichael
In one of the few autobiographical essays in this collection, “When I Was a Child”, Robinson compares the experience of reading books to that of “a pearl diver finding a piece of statuary under the Mediterranean, a figure immune to the crush of the depth though up to its waist in sand and blue with cold … its lips parted to make a sound in some lost dialect, its hand lifted to a city long since lost beyond indifference”. The image is characteristic of Robinson’s prose – dense with allusion, while also communicating how easy it would be to ignore something simply because it is anachronistic, a little frightening.
Against austerity – FT.com Marilynne Robinson on reading from her new book of essays.
Percy immersed himself deeply in his studies. A modest inheritance enabled him to spend his days reading widely and methodically, living the life of a gentleman scholar. In the fall of 1954, he published his first essay in Thought, the Fordham University quarterly, titled “Symbol as Need.” It posited semiotics as a discipline more dependent on the spiritual than the scientific; that symbolization is not a biological need, but a social activity. He followed it two years later with the dense, technical, “Symbol as Hermeneutic in Existentialism: A Possible Bridge from Empiricism” in Philosophy & Phenomenological Research. Percy was 40 years old, fascinated by states of consciousness, existential anxiety, ontology and its relation to his faith, and the mystery of what he called “the zone of the other.” He began publishing scholarly articles regularly, but all the while considering other, more accessible ways to frame his thoughts.
The Millions : Post-40 Bloomers: Walker Percy, The Original Moviegoer NTS: Look into these articles.
Walker Percy. “Symbol as Need.” Thought 29 (Autumn 1954). A long review essay on Susanne Langer’s Feeling and Form: A Theory of Art (New York: Scribner, 1953).
Symbol as Hermeneutic in Existentialism