Monday, April 30, 2007

Archives Project: STL #9

Title: Back to school
Description: on reading and what I really know
Date: 27 August 2003

Note how I niftily use the blank underscore to refer to my blog posts. That's super pomo, therefore super passe. I like that I say "I guess you could say I read for enjoyment, but I really read for expansion," but as I noted the clarifying phrase, "to get beyond what I know now, and nourish the intellectual resources for living," is clunky. In the closing, I note that I had been ready something "truly trashy about Sunset Strip." I have no idea what that was.

In the present, I'm faced with some serious reading time. I will have almost 3 months until my new job starts, and I seriously want to thin out my books before I move.

In my head, I write these _________ on Tuesday nights, though in the real world I've made that schedule once. Today is Wednesday August 27, the first day of classes. The first day of classes is my favorite day because of the promise it holds. On the first day of class, I get new reading lists, and visions of new things I could write and learn. Fall should be in the air, and those reading lists are the index of winter closing in, besieging me in my warm chair by a bright lamp. If I had met my schedule, it would be the night before the first day of class, and that would have seemed maybe a little possible. I live in Texas now, where school starts in August when there's no trace of fall. I don't get handed syllabi anymore; I hand them out. But I will always have my reading.

When I was an undergrad, the reading list was only a start, a skeleton to supplement. As a graduate student, I still register for classes, but at this point, I'm mostly setting my own reading lists. Sure I get some tips from my advisors (Imperial Archive here I come), but my interests and my understanding of my field largely determine what I read. Even so, that's my work. I love ol' Louis Zukofsky, but if I didn't have a stack of novels and essays completely unrelated to my dissertation, I'm sure I'd go insane. I'm also sure I'd be a make a much poorer professor if I rely solely on expertise (should I make professor). What I teach is reading in a large sense, and you need to know both hermetic poetry and propaganda (I mean good propaganda like Malevitch). If you live without Shakespeare and Buffy you live an impoverished life. I guess you could say I read for enjoyment, but I really read for expansion: to get beyond what I know now, and nourish the intellectual resources for living (ugly phrase that, and it tries to describe a beautiful idea.)

In recognition of school starting, I'll keep this one short. You'll be hearing about what I'm reading soon enough. Right now, I've got Guy Davenport's collection The Hunter Gracchus by my bed. It was his essay "On Reading" which got me thinking what I do when I open a book, which I'll pick up on next (Tuesday).

Reading: Davenport, Clark's
Farewell to an Idea, Chris Ware's ACME Date Book, a truly trashy book about Sunset Strip
Seeing: Salesmen, Bob le Flambeur
Listening: Master of Puppets! P.J. Harvey!