I haven't actually come up with any definitive answers. I have had some revelatory (or almost so) moments, that may lead to something eventually.
1) I am reading David Copperfield, and have been doing so for a couple of weeks now. I'm taking it slowly, often on purpose. I freaked out a little a few days ago when I realized this is the first book in approximately 10 years that I haven't read desperately. And I mean real, sickening desperation.
In grad school (yes, I'll stop blaming everything on that soon, very soon, I promise!), I read desperately both microcosmically and macrocosmically, and in both my work and leisure reading experiences. For school, I read desperately quickly, in order to get things done; for example, I recall reading Wuthering Heights in one very long and excruciating day because I had so many other things to do; during that day, I neither left my house, nor washed, nor ate anything that didn't come out of a box. While studying for my comprehensive exams, I read two plays every day, and took extensive notes on them.
When I read for leisure, which I did in a manic attempt to not feel too defined by my studies, I read with all the desperation of the drowning; reading for pleasure only was, for me, evidence that I wasn't lost yet. But I read with so much fear in my heart - the fear of individual books being interrupted and the general fear of running out of time before I got to everything I wanted to get to that in the end, these experiences weren't really so different. I just didn't realize this until recently, when I noticed I was magically back to reading in pre-desperation mode.
Pre-desperation mode involved lingering over books to make them last as long as possible, purposefully not reading at all some days so my immersion in the artistic world of Dickens or Boccaccio or whomever could be prolonged in my deeply satisfied brain. Apparently, just 2 weeks away and an impossibly lengthy Dickens novel have taken me back there.
The question is, can I blog without that desperation? I honestly don't know. The last time I was accustomed to reading this way, my email was in Pine, more than half my professors (and I) didn't know how to send attachments over the email, and Blogger didn't even exist! Maybe that's where the pumpkin pie recipes come in, hey? I hope you like pumpkin pie.
2) Substance has gotten lost in style here somehow. I like to be funny. Sometimes, I think I succeed. I must succeed sometimes; otherwise, Tina Fey wouldn't have created an entire tv show based on the crazy hi jinx of my awkward social life and professional gaffs. But I was positively ashamed of myself today when I saw my flip and shallow interview about Shakespeare bumping up against an interview with David Mitchell on Between the Lines.
Also, I can be dismissive. Admittedly, this is my blog and I should without shame state my opinions but this is where I get confused - at what point does the blog stop being about the individual and become about the community? And how does one maintain the individual (which in my case is allergic to sugar-coating anything) without alienating the community? I honestly don't know, and this is why I'm not certain this return of mine will last.
3) I'm not sure I can write without desperation, but just as importantly, I'm not sure I want to. That's not a rhetorical way of saying I don't want to; I really don't know if I want to! To try to answer this, I'm going to list what I've consistently enjoyed about working on this here bloggy:
- Curious/Creepy: Besides just loving to find out what people are reading, I like the venue for creative but relatively harmless bitchiness this allows for. But I rarely take transit so this is a difficult one to do often.
- The Sarazens head: It's good to point out that all the crazy people that come in here aren't just fictions of my disordered brain. Ditto for the super-nice and interesting people.
- I enjoy writing about books I really love and books I really hate. Both inspire passion, and it's satisfying to engage with that passion. Unfortunately, my passionate responses to books I hate have elicited death threats and illiterate abuse, e.g., "Your a stupid cunt faced bitch go fuck yourselv" [sic], and that's frankly rather tiring now that I've grown Kevlar skin and it doesn't hurt me anymore. Also, it's hard to read only books that inspire an excessive use of superlatives; there's just so much middling stuff out there.
- I used to love The Reading Lamp but that's on the chopping block if Bookphilia stays alive for it's SO FREAKIN' HARD to get people to participate. I find this surprising. But I guess I imagine everyone will be as much of an egomaniac as I am and want to spout their blah blahs all over the place as much as I do.
- Book challenges. Granted, I'm only currently involved in two - one of my own devising (talk about commitment-phobia!) and the other which requires only one book in six months, which I've fulfilled - but I somehow can't deal with the pressure. But I'm not blaming things on grad school anymore so this is an entirely mysterious ailment that cannot be diagnosed!
- I don't know if I can actually do things any differently, no matter how much I analyze myself and tire you by treating you like my father confessor/shrink/bartender/sympathetic looking but quietly uncomfortable guy at the bus stop. Er, yeah, sorry.
And I'm out of steam. More later, maybe.