I’m trying to read and write more. Sparrow and Zorro Smitty are always talking about new writers, and I’m all out of the loop. Granted, I’m very well-read on the American and British Romantics, and I’ve read my Milton, and the Harlem Renaissance writers, and the prose works of e.e. cummings (you really ought to get down with The Enormous Room if you haven’t. It’s about his time in prison during the First World War, and it’s fantastic), but nobody cares about that stuff anymore. I open my mouth and it’s as if a pile of dustbunnies and cobwebs has fallen out. Musty old books–who cares? Nobody! On, on, on and on, on–I must move on to the new stuff the kids are reading. I mean, if I’m going to go to writers’ school, I’ll be laughed out the door if they find out I’ve never really read any Franzen (only a short piece or two), or David Foster Wallace! I haven’t, you know. And I’ve only read one book by Junot Diaz. I got tired of him when he was on the New Yorker welfare dole, along with Updike and V.S. Naipaul, who could write any bullshit they wanted and it would get published in the late 1990s, early 2000s, no matter how bad it was. There’s only so much Nabakov you can lean on, Seer, only so much Delillo you can have under your belt and say you’re well-read.
So I’m reading again. Lots of my friends have great suggestions for modern (or are we post-modern? Like I give a shit) writers to read, including Quink and Calliope Ducks. The problem is, for every book of pleasure reading, I feel I need to pick up something that’s really, really good for me. Some wheatgrass reading. I have all this Derrida and Foucault and shit I feel I should read. Not because I enjoy it at all! No siree. Because I feel I should make my brains stronger, and because I want to know what it is when other people talk about it. I don’t want to be out of the loop. I want to be educated. But so often, it’s like eating chalk. It’s so unpleasant. It tastes terrible, and it’s hell to get down, and it takes forever to read, and I have to reread paragraphs over and over again to make sure I get what it says. Or I don’t and I feel stupid.
Knowing I have this ahead of me keeps me from reading the fun stuff sometimes. (I don’t know; is Infinite Jest fun? It doesn’t look fun from the heft of it. It looks like literary broccoli.) Why, why do I put myself through this? Why am I still hung up on who I should be? When will I let myself be who I am?
I know I’m not the only one with painful goals for self-actualization. Most people’s just seem to be around exercise. Well, I haven’t been to yoga in months! Not since I went on the Kayoed. It killed my appetite for exercise. So. Well, okay. Maybe I’ll go tomorrow.
What’s your conflict today? Ah.