I went up to my study last week and screamed. For reasons, that perhaps only a five-year-old can understand, Arch had pulled every one of my books from my shelves and hurled them in a spine-bent, cover-ripped pile on the floor.
So that was how I came to be doing something I had not done for five years, ten years, 20 years in some cases – laying my hands upon my treasures…opening them, smelling them, remembering what I had been doing and who I had been when I had drunk deeply of their meanings.
My books are familiar – yet strange
But as I leafed through these layers of self, I was surprised to find strangeness and familiarity in equal measure.
Take The Continental Philosophy Reader, for example. I remember buying that from a store in London when I was in my 20s. I recall how excited I was to have it.
Good grief. It included Claude Levi-Strauss on the Structural Study of Myth, Michel Foucault on The Discourse of Language and Hans-Georg Gadamer on The Universality of the Hermeneutical Problem. Who wouldn’t have been wetting herself?
I don’t understand them
But as I looked through the fat and juicy tome, I realised that some 20 years on, I didn’t understand a word of it. What ever was it all about? Did I really read that kind of thing just for the Hell of it? Today I can barely read a newspaper.
Yet in the margins of this inscrutable text, were my annotations showing just how much it had meant to me: “YES!!!!” , “Cf mimesis”, “Cf Rubem Alves”, “Yes, yes, yes!” I got it once. I don’t get it now.
All of which caused me to ponder…where did that thinking go? Is it lost, just because I can’t remember it? Do the things we can’t recall disappear or have they become a part of us, affecting who we are, at some level creating us, even if we can not trace them?