Thursday, October 8, 2009


Submerged in Clive James' Cultural Amnesia, I feel as if I'm walking on the bottom of the ocean on the ashes of civilization--remnants of good and evil alike rolled like a palate beneath the ceaseless muttering of a haunted sea. So far, this is a book an edifice, a beautiful tomb of an education that must have died before reaching the practical university from which I took my degree.

It shocks me how these tiny vignettes can render a day pointless and yet remind one that remaining engaged may be the only meaning one can hope to find in it. I need to slow down, to restrict myself to just a few names a week.

Despite the negativity it engenders, it forms part of the bulwhark against the nattering of the story-formation lecturers; the ideas present both argue against allowing authority to assume to itself knowledge that is absolute-beyond-question and of forgetting that writing is a conversation and not a string of sensational events dragged from the eyes through the nervous system at speed.

There are better things to gain from the book. So far, I've carefully packed away regrets: I speak only one language; I have such a tenuous understanding of world history that famous names float on nothing but fame on a foam of diffidence; I would be one of those people turning away from hard things, I turn away now; and I find only stasis in the terrible stories.

I look forward to going back to the shallows with the next book on the agenda (which I won't name, since I'm bad about picking up yet other books) and exploring the possibility that our world is the safe one, it's the other that is dangerous.

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