About Me

Monsters and Dust

> At any given moment, I am probably reading about seven books at a time. This isn’t a boast, either; some I intend to finish, some I am struggling through, some I am racing through, others I have stopped reading but think I am still reading but will not shelve because that would admit defeat.

By Cliff’s standards, I suppose I could be considered to be reading three books at the moment. There are three books underneath my bedside table, with bookmarks placed about a dozen pages in, but they are well and truly abandoned. I can’t remember their names, and if I had any sense I’d put them out of their misery. Fortunately, I’m not quite *that* much of a tidiness-freak.

In realistic terms, I read one book at a time. I rarely fail to finish a book, for the same reason that I rarely abandon watching a film partway through, and I can’t recall ever walking out of the cinema. It might be out of respect for the artist, perhaps a belief that these things should be unbroken entities, but it’s much more likely that it’s a naive optimism.

I read quickly, though in short, infrequent bursts. It’s been 5 days since I finished [Blood of Angels][] by Michael Marshall, and I haven’t started on anything else since. This, too, is quite normal, and nothing to be afraid of.

[blood of angels]:

My plan for this year is to read less. Sounds mad, but there it is. Last year I think that I probably focussed on quantity over quality, as if one’s smartness was in direct proportion to the number of words that you could accumulate. But then I realised that the more you try to squeeze in, the dumber and dumber you get. You adopt other peoples’ opinions and lifestyles, instead of creating your own. It’s a kind of information overload. Back in November, when I was becoming aware of this syndrome, I was reading [The Picture of Dorian Gray][] by Oscar Wilde. This quote leapt out at me as something to bear in mind:

[the picture of dorian gray]:

> …we all take such pains to over-educate ourselves. In the wild struggle for existence, we want to have something that endures, and so we fill our minds with rubbish and facts, in the silly hope of keeping our place. The thoroughly well-informed man–that is the modern ideal. And the mind of the thoroughly well-informed man is a dreadful thing. It is like a bric-a-brac shop, all monsters and dust, with everything priced above its proper value.

As I read these words, I recognised the bric-a-brac. I turned on myself, and attempted to beat the bric-a-brac out of my head, using a shovel. An actual shovel, yes.

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