online: 16 august 2003

5 august 2003 literature is unnecessary

16:20 (and so is government!)

Today I'm escaping the heatwave (35C, 94?F) in the almost chilly air inside the British Library.

In the first book I opened* I read of John Livingston Lowes' conception of the deeper pleasures of reading - and that notion inspired me in a way the books I'd ordered did not... all of them seem useless to me today (and leave me wondering if most or even all literature is unnecessary?)

...'literature is unnecessary' - what a nice thought... though I don't quite believe it - writing-and-reading is a main part of the evolution of mind - and of technology (in that most technical developments begin with written proposals)...

But, insofar as most of what's written is trivial, a distraction from that deeper aspect of reading or writing, it is true... Though the concept of truth may be literary - derived prehaps from holy gospels - and thus Western science is a (very successful) Christian heresy?

I wrote that in the cafe - now back to the books, prisoners of this great library, released from the book stacks to be visited in Humanities Reading Room 1...

...waiting for me is a novel by Ngugi wa Thiong'o** and this does indeed interest me... The second chapter begins with just the mixture of realism and non-realism to make me want to read it:

The Devil appeared to Jacinta Wariinga one Sunday on a golf course in the town of Illmorog in Iciciri District, and he told her...

(more to follow...

*John Livingston Lowes, Of Reading Books, four essays, Constable & Co Ltd, London 1930, page 123, in which I read:
... about reading - whether it be for delight, or for information, or for something deeper still...'

**Ngugi wa Thiong'o, The Devil on the Cross, translated by the author from Gikuyu, Heineman, Oxford, 1982.

...though this novel was written with political purpose - the author wrote it in prison where he was sent after a performance of his play I will Marry When I want.

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