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Sunday, November 21, 2010


You'd think that as you get older, you'd (by definition) get more experienced at life and living and consequently also get wiser, more discerning in your tastes and, god forbid, more articulate and literate. I've found this to be not so.

Where a decade ago I would not hesitate to read anything from Shakespeare to Salman Rushdie to José Saramago to Umberto Eco, these days I tend to shy away from the more challenging literature; so much so that I gravitate towards novels titled 'The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break' (no joke) or non-fiction written by a certain British motoring journalist who shall stay anonymous to protect that shred of dignity I like to imagine I still have left.

This worries me, because while I'll be the first to admit that I'm not by far the sharpest tool in the shed, I do consider myself well-read, well-informed, astute and knowledgeable; this is something I take pride in. And as my literacy seems to decrease I feel that those other qualities diminish, also.

A somewhat logical explanation of this is that a decade ago I was still a student of language and literature, immersed in that world of epic poetry, academia, proto-language, etc. But I do clearly remember reading challenging literature not because I had to, but because I wanted to, and I see no reason for that desire to slip away over the years. Yet, is seems it did.

What I suppose it is, is raging apathy; a (subconscious?) avoidance of anything that requires a more than average amount if exertion of any kind, in this case cerebral. I think Mumford & Sons said it best in their song 'I Gave You All':
"If only I had an enemy bigger than my apathy I could have won."
I cannot deny that apathy is, in a way, my greatest vice, holding me back from being perhaps something more (or at the very least different) from what I am now, but at the same time apathy has been a good friend, shaping me into someone who floats through life carefree, untethered, free of stress, all qualities which allow me to enjoy life all the more.

That being said, I think I owe it to myself to agitate that grey mud slushing around in my skull, to poke it with a stick, rouse it and to pose it a challenge every once in a while, just to see whether that desire I found so enjoyable a decade ago is still hiding out somewhere in the folds and creases of my brain.

But first I have a book about a smoking Minotaur to finish.


Blogger C G said...

You need someone to issue you a challenge - ask someone you know to assign you some homework. Whether it's reading a book or schooling yourself up on a subject, etc.

11:33 am  

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