Friday, December 27, 2013

The Art Of Reading

It seems as if to actually gain something of intellectual value from a book one has to go beyond the basic reading of the work. The reader must look at syntax, theme, moods and symbolism to get to the true meaning the author was trying to convey. After all these years that I have been out of school I have fallen back into the old habit of just reading books for the enjoyment of reading, but as I approach this project I have realized that I must get myself back into the habit of reading analytically. In order to get back in the habit I understood that I needed a refresher course on analytical reading.. here in lies the problem. Perusing it seems there are many literary heavyweights who want to teach us how to read a book; Mortimer Adler, Harold Bloom, Terry Eagleton and Thomas C. foster to name a few. The Great Courses even offer a series on The Art Of Reading conducted by Professor Timothy Spurgin on how to go beyond just reading a book.

The question we have to ask ourselves is how do we go beyond our just reading for enjoyment to reading books to take something more from them. Yes some authors are just trying to tell a good story, but other books, they are trying to teach us something more; maybe it is something about the human condition,maybe it is something we are really afraid to deal with on an emotional level, it may even be something on a sociopolitial level that we aren't really grasping when we watch the news. Ultimately we have to go beyond the narrative to see what an author is truly trying to get at. I guess I'll have to see what these books and lecture hold in order to help in really getting beyond the narrative itself.

Friday, December 20, 2013

This is my intellectual hermitage.

Although Virginia Woolf said that a "woman must have money and a room of one's own to write fiction," I believe regardless of the genre a person must have a space of their own in order to express their ideas. That is what this place is for me. I needed a place where I could discuss the vast intellectual project that I have decided to take on.

I have come to a point in my intellectual development that I have decided to undertake a massive literary project. I had felt that I had been going through an intellectual slump these past few years. I did not finish college and I had been a large believer in autodidact education due to that. This year I have slacked quite a bit in pursing any type of educational avenue as the year has drawn to a close I realized that I needed to start a new intellectual enterprise.

I have decided starting January first to eschew all television and movies, (The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug dvd release not withstanding) and focus on reading the list of 1001 books to read before you die --after 4 editions it actually is a list of 1305 books--, The The Plot Against America – Philip Roth Books of the Western World, and Clifton Fadiman's Lifetime Reading Plan. I have not sat here and calculated the total number of books that will be read but I assume this plan will most likely take me a life time. I endeavor to complete this project as promptly as possible but I do not want to lose the ability to comprehend the impact each of these books have had on history, society and culture by rushing through each work too hastily. Granted any of these lists are technically arbitrary, the selection of the "greatest books" or "great books" in general tend to be personal preference based on the opinion of the compiler but I believe that reading from each of these lists will expose me to some great writing and books that have greatly influenced the literary world.

The point of this blog:

I consider myself an intellectual hermit, well mostly a hermit. I am a recluse for the most part as I don't really find a lot of pleasure in large social interactions, I prefer quieter smaller groups of individuals who enjoy more cerebral conversation. I have decided that this blog would be the best avenue for creating a little place in the vast interconnected world to start. Her Intellectual Hermitage is a place where I will discuss the books that I read (no so much a book review blog but more so how I see that these books landed on any of the specific lists).. I also will discuss the randomness that crosses my mind. I am one of those odd individuals who occasionally thinks about philosophical and cultural issues (like the nature of good and evil, the evolution of language and speech within our current culture, etc). I also intend to touch upon the Great Courses Programs, as I have started to listen to those as well. I will leave comments open on most of the blog posts and look forward to hearing from you as well dear readers. I hope you too will find intellectual respite here at this small web hermitage.