Wednesday, August 29, 2012

kindred spirits

People have their own things going on and time is limited. So when I post a link to a long article, I don't expect anyone to actually read it. Pasting the link is just me being self-indulgent. Besides, W.G. Sebald is not for everyone, only for the clinically melancholy.

I'll just paste in a few things from the article:

  • It remains mysterious, how a book slowly amasses urgency and at the right moment pounces, finding one of its intended readers, who feels as though there are no others.
  • Books that I notice because they confirm me; that extend a promise of futurity that I don’t think I could ever explain to anyone. Benjamin’s Illuminations, Joseph Brodsky’s Watermark, Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida, some of the novels of Javier Marías, Nabokov’s Speak, Memory . . . 
  • All this, I kept thinking, from a book. But maybe not a book so much as a heard voice, a sensibility absorbed.
  • When disparate things are brought together—as in a chemistry lab, as here—we allow for higher levels of the unforeseen. There would be, I knew, illuminations of specific historical moments, and insights into the lives of fascinating literary figures. But these did not fully account for my sense of compulsion. Rather, it was as if some powerful built-up need, the psychological equivalent, possibly, of a vitamin deficiency, had me looking for whatever could appease it. It could be that this need had somehow put me in the way of the chances and choices that brought the book to my mind. There was the unexpected trigger of the bookshelf photos, the flaring up of the impulse to find and read. Which, in turn, could only have happened because I had picked up inklings over time—in reading other books by Sebald, in those almost peripheral intimations, gathered during even the most casual inspections, that the tone and pace were somehow in sync with my reading disposition . . . I was confirmed in this quickly.

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