Pippa and I went to the library tonight, and I took out a couple of books. Now, this seems (on the face of it) a plausible enough gesture, until you recall that the last time I went to the library I took out Ricoeur’s Memory, History, Forgetting, — a 600-page tome that I haven’t even begun reading. I thought of a couple more books I ought to be reading to prepare for my spring series of talks, and today I received twenty-odd papers to mark, with a set of final exams coming in next week.
As I wandered haplessly toward the library check-out desk, I realized that this constituted a pathetic charade: since I no longer have time to read, I go through the motions by taking books out, and then returning them a week or so later, as though I’d read them. Not only is that embarrassingly irrational behavior, it deprives other Evanstonians of the use of good books while I sit beside the stack of books on my desk, wishing they would read themselves to me while I struggle with my round of tasks.
This will not do — no longer.
I’m about to head upstairs, where I will read a chapter or two of Worship as Meaning before I go to sleep, no matter what.
I will learn to read again; I will not give in to attention entropy.