Sunday, May 19, 2024

How I Read Now

I take my membership in the 2-person book club very seriously, as will be confirmed when I tell you that I moved JOSEPH AND HIS BROTHERS into a secondary position so that I could more faithfully engage with the biography of Polly Adler. Look her up! I don't have time for your lazy ways. Having finished that Marilynne Robinson book, I now read JOSEPH AND HIS BROTHERS for 10 minutes a day, 5 minutes at a time, while I wait to take my blood pressure. I make it through an average of four pages a day, a pace to which the book makes itself strangely amenable. I first noticed while reading THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN that Thomas Mann is very interested in time - its reality and its narrative uses and representation. That's a great oversimplication. To keep going in the same simplistic direction, the only direction I know, Mann is interested in how an hour can pass like molasses, while a decade can disappear in a blink. It is for that reason, I assume, that my readings of his mammoth text, though brief and greatly separated, feel as if they are taking place in a single unending and languorous haze. It may further interest you to know that I believe I was pronouncing "Thomas Mann" correctly for most of my life, and then, recently, I started thinking I was doing it wrong, so I started pronouncing it a new way, but now, whenever I say it out loud, someone says, "Who?" and I say "Thomas Mann" and they say "Oh..." Then they look at me like that one emoji with a straight line for a mouth. (See also, the time a smart-alecky undergrad corrected my pronunciation of "whilst" in front of the whole class, even though I was saying it right and he turned out to be nothing but an ill-informed little and, as I recall it, wealthy jerk with enviable golden locks. On the other hand, what is this bitterness? I am sure he turned out to be a very nice young man and he did demonstrate considerable ability in the classroom. His single flaw, now that I really contemplate it, was his unwarranted confidence about how to pronounce "whilst." There are worse crimes! God bless you, the handsome and polished pebble in my shoe! See also, then, the time I mispronounced the name of Ashton Kutcher, and was justifiably laughed out of the classroom and made to hang my head in dirty shame.) Oh! But what I came here to say is that though (as I have reiterated countlessly) I am under no obligation to tell you about more than one owl in a book, and I have already told you about two owls in JOSEPH AND HIS BROTHERS, old Potiphar was just sitting in his special room where he sits as the sun goes down, and behind his head as he sits in a silent, noble fashion, there is artwork representing owls, falcons, and ducks, I believe in that order, but the book is all the way downstairs, under my blood pressure machine, so I guess we'll never know.