Overdosing on Books

There is a time to read and a time to write. The latter is upon us. I have denied this for as long as I could—not because I fear or dread the act of writing, but because I feel so sickened with guilt every time I put my books aside. The good news is that my current task, A People’s History of the United States, can be halted at the end of any chapter, and recommenced without significant trouble.

[Why are you convinced that this is the time to write? Or, perhaps more accurately: why are you convinced that now is not the time to read?]

Because the act of reading has become so bloody painful. A People’s History is not laden in the least; it is actually one of the most accessible works of political analysis you will ever find, hence the frustration in my struggle to read it. I had set myself a goal to finish the book by Monday, but I’m only one-third of the way through it.

[Are you struggling relative to the standards of performance you set for yourself, or do you find yourself struggling, period?]

Unfortunately, I’m just struggling. It happens to me sometimes. If I read too much, too quickly, I burn myself out, and my mind just shuts down. It refuses to accept any more text. People think it can’t happen, but it can: have you ever exercised excessively, at which point your body responds with aches and pains, thereby preventing any more exertion?

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A Glut of Ideas, Bad English Translations, the Tea Party Redefined, Pitchfork Populism, “It Can’t Happen Here”

I’m having the worst anxiety.

[Pertaining to?]

All of the reading I’ve been doing as of late. At the end of every paragraph, I’m compelled to write a response, to describe how this observation, made however many years ago initially, is germane to something that is happening today.

[That, of course, was your intention when you committed to reading only that political literature which was published prior to the year 2008. Why, then, do you complain about your, shall we say, fecundity of response?]

Because there’s never enough time in the day to respond to all of it. I feel as though I’m constantly racing against time, battling to get the words out before I lose the thought.

[If you are truly in such danger of forgetting that which you wish to say, then is it fair to question the pertinence, the urgency, of whatever it is you would?]

Jeez, you make it sound like I’m annihilating my mind with alcohol, or something. What I meant to say is that, by the time I get to the next paragraph, a new idea comes to mind and hogs the mental spotlight from its predecessor. I wish I had more time to read and write, more time to focus on the things I’m reading, and more time to draft a more detailed reply.

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The Satanic Bible of the Church of Progressivism, Pages 1-15

[So, what are you reading now?]

A People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn.

[What is your intention or interest in reading it?]

In a word, to find what lies within the belly of the beast.

[I don’t follow.]

I know, it’s all right. A People’s History is something of a known commodity in political circles—or an unknown commodity, as the case may be. The title has become a byword, the definition of which changes, depending on the ideological camp in which it is mentioned. Among liberals, it is typically held in high regard as one of the most fascinating works of nonfiction you will ever read. However, I don’t want to speak too definitively, or in too much detail, about what the liberals have to say about it, because I haven’t met very many liberals who have read it. I haven’t met very many people who have read it at all, but in college, for example, I don’t think I met a single person who had read it.

Continue reading “The Satanic Bible of the Church of Progressivism, Pages 1-15”

Popular Misconceptions, Simplifying Hitler, Romney Contra Rand, Reading Nothing Yet

[On Saturday, you discussed your interest in political literature written before the year of 2008. Are you still exploring that field, or have you moved on to something else?]

Well, I was hoping to complete this literary sojourn before the end of August, but it became clear long before then that I had bitten off a lot more than I could chew. We still haven’t cleared all of the books I intended to read, and I can’t imagine I will get through the last two in time for next month’s midterms.

[What are the last two?]

A People’s History of the United States and Mein Kampf. The latter is one I’ve been staring at for a while, even though it never became of serious interest to me until sometime this year. I expect I will be grateful, when it’s all said and done, that I didn’t read it before Trump entered the scene.

[Do you understand that anyone who reads this will assume that you are comparing, and perhaps even equating, Trump and Hitler?]

Let those people think whatever they want. Anybody who is coming here in expectation of more of the same, more of what they write on CNN and American Greatness, is probably not my most studious reader. But, in the interest of explaining myself, I should point that nobody can make a meaningful comparison between Trump and Hitler without having first brushed up on the latter; in which case, I can’t think of a better place to start than Mein Kampf.

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The Supernatural Pass of 2008, Eminem for President, Superhuman Intellect, “In Real Time”, “Russian Roulette”, Million-Dollar Charlatans

[I would like to continue our conversation from Monday, wherein you described your commitment to “older” political literature. Might it behoove you to, in greater detail, explain this recent interest of yours?]

Well, if I’m gonna clarify, then you’re gonna have to be more specific, too: what part of this project would you like me to address?

[In our previous discussion, you said that you did not, for the moment, wish to read any political literature written within the last ten years—meaning, from 2008 to the present day. This implies a fault or deficiency about “recent” literature, yes?]

First, we should define “political literature”. In this instance, we’re referring to books written about political issues. It does not necessarily refer to political tracts, like The Communist Manifesto, the modern counterpart to which I cannot name. In fact, it probably doesn’t refer to much specifically, at all: we might include a book like The Smartest Guys in the Room, even though the Enron scandal is not strictly or exclusively political.

Continue reading “The Supernatural Pass of 2008, Eminem for President, Superhuman Intellect, “In Real Time”, “Russian Roulette”, Million-Dollar Charlatans”