Monday, September 19, 2016

Culture Corner 9.19. 16


English majors, right?

Most of us in the English and Creative Writing departments are bibliophiles. Word nerds. Bookworms. Library dwelling, new book smelling, can't-wait-to-tell-you-what-book-you-need, readers.

We will gleefully tell anyone "you know, it wasn't as good as the book." Or, "I only have cable for BBC and Game of Thrones." Many of us are blissfully unaware that the new James Cameron movie is coming out, or that The Emmys are on tonight. 

But why do we so love being set apart? Is it some sort of perverse narcissism that expresses itself as a denial of other artistic mediums? (And probably completely ignores the sportsballing?) Is it a facade? How many of us go home at night, and completely neglect our assigned reading to binge on six or thirteen post-apocalyptic/distopic YA movies? (I'll never forgive you, Veronica Roth/Markus Zusak/Suzanne Collins!) 

But, then again, those movies were all based on--wait for it--books.  (And we've all read them, so we needn't name the untimely deaths. {TrisPrueEveryoneLieselEverLovedPrimroseCinnaMomofTris}) Are we as readers really just insular creatures by nature, and given to prefer the solitary aspect of reading? 

I often wonder when I am in amongst my friends who are primarily something other than readers--typically musicians--how it is that they spend their days. Because I am also a musician, I know that music is as important to me as books are, but they're far from separate. They inspire one another. They work in tandem to create who it is that I am. I am beginning to think that readers, particularly those who choose this as their occupation, simply do not understand any other way to be. It's as much compulsion as it is profession. We read because we love it, and we love it because we read, and we want you to love it, too. We want to inspect all of the nooks and crannies of a narrative, dissecting it like so much science and specimen. How else could any of us explain voluntarily reading something like this:

(please try to read aloud for full effect.)
"The categories forming particularities and universalities are chosen arbitrarily. In a specific cultural and historical context, certain categories are recognized and considered worth being abstracted from (like race, sexuality or nationality), while other categories are not recognized. Therefore, one is left with singularities."

Strangely, this is from what I consider to be a fantastic article! Even if everything she says apparently must have the "ie" and "y" sound. 

(exerpt from an article titled "Hegel on a Carrousel: Universality and the Politics of Translation in the Work of Judith Butler" by Iwona Janicka.) 

And somehow, someway, we find each other. We congregate in our church. (All hail the library.) We tweet about the new Foer novel. We sit for hours in the English office talking about the peculiarities of going to a school wherein the students are predominantly black and brown and yet we're all reading CONRAD. And somehow that communication and experience aids in our understanding of our own black and brownness. (Or redness, in my case.) And our gateway was reading. Our fundamental opinions are inspired in pages which others have written, and we interpret. 

I don't think it makes us more. I do think it makes us special.

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