Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Reading as Privation

One of the paradoxes of study, reading, writing is that as much as it broadens, opens, and exposes oneself to the world and experience of others, it simultaneously alienates that same self. Augustine's comments notwithstanding (cf. Peter Candler), the choice to read a book, is a choice to shift attention from one world to another - which is to say, you don't bring a book to a party, or to a friends house, or to church. The choice to read is the choice to exile oneself, to ignore (at least, temporarily) the needs, wants, and attention of others, and to pay attention instead to someone who is present only as text who exerts no such needs or wants. All reading reflects the impetus of the monastic, at least in part.