Monday, November 14, 2005

There will be an answer/ Let it be.

It's the ultimate New Age pastime: worrying. Doesn't require any special equipment and/or expertise. Utterly virtual, so you can plunge into it at any time, in any place. And completely, exquisitely pointless.

I'm quite brilliant at it, and, on a good day, can work myself up to worrying about whether I'm worrying too much in the first place. Which is the mental equivalent of an Escher drawing.

One of my favourite things to worry about is what to read next, and I'm always faintly surprised that it isn't a more widespread source of stress. Let's face it, the world is full of more good books than I will ever be able to read (I use the word 'good' in the loosest possible sense, extending it to encompass posher words of more syllables: interesting, horrifying, intriguing, beautiful, entertaining, different, tragic, etc.) And, once you accept that fact, you proceed to live with the corollary: that everything you actually read is a fairly random selection from that master list.

Leon Trotsky, apparently, felt much the same way, and had this to offer in terms of advice. (To put things into perspective, he spent years in prison, where all he did was read. And, eventually, write.)

Tibor Fischer has a great short story on the subject, buried in an otherwise forgettable collection called Don't Read This Book If You're Stupid. (It opened with the rather nice We Ate the Chef, then proceeded to lose me completely.)

Some people, quite mistakenly, call this reading anxiety.

I could blather on about this for ages, but my new Murakami beckons.

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