Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence


Why I Read How I Read What I Read

What I read is evident from the reading diary this blog became. Literary fiction, more of it in translation than I would have thought, as well as poetry and belles lettres, always with emphasis on the innovative, whether classic or contemporary. A smattering of philosophy, criticism, history, biography, but with a bias towards the unsystematic yet reflexive, building a framework via interpretation rather than the other way round: it is not the matter, but how it is related, that is telling. And so, the how: reading to tease out the relationships within and among works and words, understanding how it is put together, delving into strata of meaning that interpenetrate by design. Why, then, beyond a proclivity for analysis (which has otherwise served me well)? It is a model of thought, of epistemology, of representation, derived from but irreducible to its components. The question partakes of CSPeirce's thirdness, where the how is seconded and the essential elements, the firsts, are other people's thirds: It is a pragmatic decision to treat this derived and refined evidence as fundamental and all-encompassing, as the best manifestation of a republic of letters, as opening a window on the human condition. Because it bootstraps wisdom (including knowing its limitations) rather than receiving it. But also because it amuses me. Moreso than other forms of aesthetic expression. 23.10.06 -- and then there's empathy [paper] -- of the authors listed, I score half the Sci, half the SciFi, half the Philo/psycho, nearly sweep the foreigners, but little else, so perhaps my empathy is misplaced? (via

Recent relevant reading includes Pater's The Renaissance, itself seeming as decandent (relative to Arnold & Ruskin) as the late Victorian writing that took its cue therefrom (confirming my bias against both system and late Vickyness); also, Athanasius Kircher: the last man who knew everything (more properly, the last pre-Enlightenment polymath, decadent in his own way), ed Paula Findlen -- while in the neighborhood, John Banville's Kepler, underrated, a strong historical novel which will eventually prod me into his other works of the period.

I have had the luxury and the leisure to pursue this line of literary investigation more diligently over the past few years, all the while knowing that the resources are inexhaustible and that the alloted time only permits a cursory exagmination of the territory. Time is, time was, time's past: It's time for me to allocate now scarcer reading time to more purely analytical topics, in maths, but with a view towards praxis; the last time I embarked on grad-level home-schooling in this was between jobs 8 years ago, and while, as with literature, there's so much I'll never know, the magnitude of what I don't know is bothering me more than it had, even though the prospects of putting it to use are diminishing; but then, that was the case before and it turned out to be time well spent. So the postings here will be sparse, perhaps taking another direction. Time will tell.


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