Saturday, July 05, 2008

Is the time for the long reads over?

Today I was thinking:
Is the time for concentration over?

Is the time for longtime commitment to thorough reading a forgotten art?

Are "slow texts" and literature that demand more from you than 30 minutes a day, perhaps even spread out between text messages, phone calls and checking your mail losing the battle in these efficient times? I really sensed a voice telling me that I couldn't possibly consider sitting down a couple of hours every day to do what I enjoy so much: read.
Walking past a shelf in a book store today with a display of Proust's In Search of Lost Time or Remembrence of Things Past, a memory of reading the first volume of his long mémoire filled me -- or rather, my memory of reading his wonderfully rich text brought back the feeling of how it was to read him. It actually feels like a deep, fluid-like presence in the whole of my chest, particularly in the heart-area.
But this sweet, thick fluid was immediately mixed with a mild melancholy, as I felt how rarely I get to sink into the wonderland of makebelieve and literature that I inhabited as a child, when this kind of excess was allowed.
Proust's texts are a mix of makebelieve and real life, and offers a texture so rich, so deeply reverberating in your soul (at least in mine) that it's strange how seldom I actually find the time to dive into them and similarly magical literary landscapes.
Naturally, when our macrostructure tends towards fragmentation and speedy efficiency without time for depth and continuous study, the small structures suffer the same destiny. You are such a microstructure which is part of the macro; in fact you are the ones making the macro, and that means you can also change this structure from within.
Want the world to allow you to spend a few hours a day with continued, unabrupted concentration? Just do it! Spend those hours by yourself. You will help make this place better to live in.

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