Is there any point in reading all the great books assuming you have time enough and if you did what good would it do you or anyone else and would you have time to do anything else at all in your life? A man died while watching the Eurovision Song Contest. I know the feeling.
James Joyce said the appreciation of his work requires a lifetime’s application. Probably only half joking. A psychiatrist said she would not do it if she had two lifetimes. Sorry, James. Joyce also said he wanted to forge the unfinished conscience of his race in the smithy of his soul. Fine words butter no parsnips. That sort of thing gives rhetoric a bad name.
Substitute whatever turns you on for the word books in the title here, music or whatever the Hell else. Yes, I love music. Or dancing or golf, God help us. The perennial student, always studying, never doing. Is that a life well spent? What is life for? Look it up, there are conflicting opinions. Have you an opinion of your own or are all your ideas second hand?
What is the purpose of art, to inspire, enlighten, amuse, entertain, educate or what? This question has been answered before and if you don’t know you weren’t paying attention. For the word art substitute life. Or vice versa, whatever you like.
Look up the word dictionary in a dictionary. You might as well know something as nothing. The purpose of education if you are an egomaniac is to look down on others, be condescending and become an intellectual snob. Good luck with it. There is no fool like an educated fool said Samuel Johnson. He described a lexicographer as a harmless drudge. He should know, he wrote a dictionary, what did you do?
(Lexicographer, one who writes a dictionary. That’s telling you. Two can play at this intellectual snob thing.) It takes one to know one. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, when you think you know it all and you don’t. There is such a thing as inverted intellectual snobbery, being proud of knowing nothing. Equally repulsive.
Who says? I do. Who am I to speak? More or less no one, speak for yourself. What everyone knows is wrong, get that into your head. I believe what you do, not what you say. Liar, liar pants on fire.
So, are books, or indeed life, worthwhile? You get out of them what you put into them. If you get one good thing out of a book its worthwhile, said a brother of mine. Same applies to life, in all its forms. Art or otherwise, or digging roads or ploughing fields. As you sow so shall you reap, old saying. Life will do to be going on with.
Any day you’re above ground is a good day. Said a man now dead, but remembered. This is more or less all I have to say on the subject. Figure it out yourself.
I wrote this like Jack Kerouac wrote On The Road, more or less typing without stopping, like jazz improvisation. That’s not writing that’s typing, someone said.
Okay, I paused for thought between sentences, I’m not Jack Kerouac.
22nd November, 2017