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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Take Refuge in Me...

Manguel writes about taking refuge in books. I can definitely vouch for it. I don't think I could've made it through my last heartbreak if it hadn't been for the escape books provided. It is strange but at that moment, at the precise moment of break up, I turned to Kafka for refuge. In his letters to Milena: "Nor is it perhaps really love when I say that for me you are the most beloved; love is to me that you are the knife which I turn within myself." And just like that I simply understood why that other person had to move on with her life. But I am digressing. We take refuge in books to forget what has been carved into our consciousness through experience. Take refuge. Appropriate. Manguel remembers his bouts of escapism while, as a child, he read "The Island of Dr. Moreau." There was something exciting, he states, about being totally terrified; something that helped him forget the clutter of present-mindedness. He also writes about his collecting books and how his library has changed with the many moves of his life. Recently, I laid down roots in a brand new home, and established what I hope to be my permanent library, so I can relate to what he is writing. He describes the trees outside his window, the way the sun catches the front of the house, etc. I have gone through similar emotions lately (although the sun doesn't hit my window at all in the library). It is, however, home, and my books are my refuge. It's like having at your disposal several hundred counsellors or psycho-analysts.

Then there are those who resist the illusion, those who can live without the hope of the refuge. A college professor friend of mine spews out that for her all reading is escapism and that escapism, no matter how much it might be needed, is not a worthwhile endeavor. I resist that corrosion. I am simply attached to the comfort the written word offers. Just like Manguel who happens to be "drunk with words."

I think that the only criticism I have for "A Reading Diary" is that Manguel turns political at some points, strongly critical of the American administrations of the past and of today. I believe he is a socialist. While there is nothing wrong with that fact, the truth is that in a book so lovely even a paragraph of this non sequitorial stuff seems too much. Perhaps he has in mind a book on political analysis. Thankfully, those passages are few.

Tomorrow I will try to write about what Manguel calls "nostalgia." Lovely word, really.

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At 1:08 AM, Blogger Susan Abraham said...

Enoyed the read,JCR.
Wondered if it was helping really, me coming & offering comments when perhaps you simply preferred the solitude. Just a thought. :-)

At 10:38 PM, Blogger Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...

escapism into books not a worthwhile endeavour??? how else to enjoy aspects of life one might not have immediate (or perhaps not ever) access to?


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