I've been thinking about that series of disjointed thoughts I dropped here yesterday. I think I made it seem as though my options for reading have been either intellectual or emotional; certainly, I've tried to separate the two throughout my years of schooling, in part because I had to. In fact, not separating them makes intuitive sense to me, but what makes intuitive sense doesn't, however, look good on any formal work I've produced. Here on Bookphilia, both are almost always present, in varying proportions, but I feel as though they're very rarely represented simultaneously; rather, I think I alternate my emotional responses with my intellectual ones and while that may or may not be entertaining, it's ultimately quite frustrating for me.
The reason I find this so frustrating is that I think the very best literature out there, regardless of how authors manage it, presents that seamless marriage of the thoughtful and the heart-ful (to coin a neologism that already has more sentimental and mushy connotations than I would like) - Cloud Atlas, David Copperfield, Silas Marner - my god!
I would like to be able to do such literature justice in my discussions here by mirroring this blended approach (or result, if we're going to try to leave the authors out of it), but there are very few things I've written in my life that I'm truly pleased with. Academically, most seemed too dry and empty and here, I often feel a little bit too jokey, mean, or maudlin, depending on the book. Not that jokey and mean aren't enjoyable and, I hope, pleasing but that sometimes these are easier, much easier, than what I imagine I could be doing. As for maudlin, what can I say? I don't hold back, which is why I couldn't read A Tale of Two Cities in public.
As a prof, I spent a great deal of time guiding my students away from what they were feeling about texts and towards what they were thinking (if anything). Essays talking about what a jerk Hamlet is to Ophelia aren't prize-winners in the university system, but if students were taught how to critically use their emotional responses to texts, instead of having them try to ignore that stuff altogether, something amazing might happen. However, I will obviously not be the one to lead such a revolution.
That said, I will continue to muddle along. Reading is not something I can happily live without and neither, it turns out, is writing about what I read, even if what I produce is a monstrous mish-mash of brilliant intellectual incisiveness and puddles of cyberspatial tears.