Skip to main content

On reading, creativity, fear of conversion, and other-people's-thoughts

Schopenhauer warns against filling our heads with too many other-people's-thoughts, so we can have room for our own.

This seems true, but my soul is always hungry--as an atheist I use the word 'soul' creatively--and I am constantly looking for new thoughts, ideas, feelings to spread throughout my being.

I think Schopey is right, but there is such a thing as not filling your head with enough other-people's-thoughts too. Your brain and soul can become dumb and your own thoughts will become inbred and deformed--looking like the members of the royal family that they keep in the basement--if you don't let your being breath in the air created by other lungs regularly enough.

I don't know how to strike the right balance, but I am always hungry. Always ready to eat. I wake up and think 'what is for breakfast?' and as soon as I begin eating I am already fantasizing about lunch. After lunch, it seems like forever until dinner, and dinner is always over far too soon.

Currently, I'm gorging on William S. Burroughs.  I have been reading nothing but his work for a month now. I have read 'The Cat Inside', 'Junky', and 'Queer', and loved them. I have also read 'Nake Lunch', and enjoyed parts of it--a few good nightmare landscapes in there--but overall left with the sensation that it composed by the author masturbating into a typewriter. I am currently reading half-heartedly through 'The Soft Machine'. I'm not crazy about the cut-up method. I wish Burroughs would have stuck more with straight-forward narrative. I'm holding out more hope for his late trilogy, 'Exterminator!', and 'Interzone'.

What brought me to Burroughs? I don't know, but I was hard up before I arrived at him. When I get into an author and there is a good match, I like to eat all of his works. I say 'his works' sadly, because I seem to gravitate mostly towards male writers. White male writers, to be precise. White dead male writers, to be even more on point. Maybe I don't like the competition element that might exist between me and living authors. Maybe I feel safer interacting with folks who can no longer hurt me or let me down.

I can already sense the anxiety building. I'll be done with 'Soft Machine' soon, and will need to go out and purchase all of Burroughs' other works. When I'm done with his limited output, I don't know what I'll read. Before Burroughs I was nuts about Alan Moore's run in Swamp Thing, and before that I read all of Kay Redfield Jamison's books (a girl! A living girl!).

There are two ways to over-do it with other-people's-thoughts: to have no compulsion at all towards them, and to rely on them completely. Both orientations--one is to be found in the uneducated plebian, the other is to be found in the over-educated scholar--are caused by the same sin: a total lack of creativity and a fear of conversion.

Creativity may be an inborn gift, so maybe there's nothing to say about that. But the fear of conversion--that's a shame, baby. Why wouldn't you want a little bit of me in you? I think we go well together. I know I wouldn't mind a little bit of you in me.


Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site