Reading for Pleasure

Yesterday I had the day off, which meant that I cleaned and ran errands and tried to push 4SQ forward (now awaiting cover art permissions– October might be available before Aug. or Sept.) Tried to write or find or somehow come up with poems for the 10K people who seem to want them– when I have written nothing particularly substantial since 2005. I don’t like one-offs. I prefer series– and I have many ideas but none of them hold my attention for long. And somehow I keep getting more straight-lyrical.

I received Intricate Systems, Juliana Spahr‘s new chapbook, from the press gang and am loving it. I am a sucker for Spahr’s work, but I think she particularly excels with chapbook-sized projects, which at the same time feel freshest and tightest to me. The physical object here is beautiful and will remind you why you love letterpress printing. It’s also a nice fit– the print and the text– Kittler-style.

I read The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing, and it wasn’t that good, honestly. Certainly nothing compared to The Summer Before the Dark or The Grass is Singing. Kind of reminded me of a pale, underinformed version of We Were the Mulvaneys. Now I am reading Eric Fromm‘s The Art of Loving. I picked this up after being somewhat helped, but ultimately unsatisfied, by He’s Just Not That Into You. Although the primary lesson of HJNTIY– don’t waste time on people who aren’t interested enough in you to act like they’re in love with you– was useful, the underlying worldview seemed essentialist and fairy-tale-like (“now you just wait here, comatose, till a nice prince carries you off to his castle in the clouds”). After Buffalo I didn’t expect to go back to Frankfurt School so readily, so happily. At Buffalo I ate, drank, and dreamed Frankfurt School, much to my dissatisfaction. But I’m older now and those ideas and readings have fermented and are clearer, more drinkable now, and here I am, actually wanting to read Adorno. For fun.

[The most interesting part of Fromm’s book thus far is his reading of the exile from Eden on p. 8-9. Though daring and heretical, it makes Christianity pop into place in a logical system.]

Just as it’s been since 2005 that I wrote poetry that I consider “good,” namely “butterflies,” it’s been since 2005 that I read for pleasure. Over that summer I devoured Lessing, Oates, James, and Austen, depending on the two bookstores in Stockholm that carried the Penguin classics and on Margareta’s home library. I don’t think I’ve had so much fun reading since I was in elementary school. As I gain distance from Academia this pleasure seems possible once again.

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3 Responses to Reading for Pleasure

  1. Andy Gricevich says:

    When somebody else says they read Adorno for fun, it makes me feel like I might not be insane. Yet.

    Everything is better read out of school.

  2. RW says:

    “And somehow I keep getting more straight-lyrical.” – Oooh, I’m liking that! In my review of OFC (I’m still waiting to hear back from an editor) I said the strongest work was the most lyrical. (Even made a comparison to Emerson!) :)

    It makes sense to me that your writing in 2005 coincided with being able to read for pleasure. My best writing spells come when I had time away from academia and ‘forced’ reading & writing assignments.

    I think something very cool is coming soon from the pen of J.Smith!

  3. Steven Fama says:

    I’m ignorant re: “Kittler-style.”

    Help! (Please)

    (P.S. I’ve seen the Spahr chapbook, and the letterpress printing feels great!)

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