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.
CROSS POSTED AT EVERYTHING IN THE MEDICINE CABINET HAS EXPIRED.