After a morning of silver gray skies, rain came down, filling up puddles and freckling my sweatshirt on the way to dinner at the local vegetarian cafe. We talked about classic literature versus modern popular literature over our plates of pasta. Modern literature, we agreed, often seems to be targeted at a specific audience. Chick lit. Sci Fi. Environmental lit. Action. Fantasy. The scope of traditional genres has expanded almost exponentially--creating micro genres that custom fit each population pigeon hole.
Classical literature by comparison (and by classical we were referring to the heady works of Plato, Homer and Aristotle) encompasses a great deal more, it seems. It was the human archetypes that those first authors were after, not readership. IDEAS mattered more than popularity or a pretty book jacket.
It's interesting to reflect how we've changed as readers and human beings both since Socrates was widely read. I squirm a bit realizing how little I know of these great works compared with my great grandparents, or my father, even. But I also feel like the readership today has gained something from its perpetual quest of self-examination. Despite our loss of common ethics that the archetypal heroes once provided, I think we are learning something new about simply being human, in all it's varied peculiarity, from this flood of market specific media.
The blogosphere I've been bouncing around in is like this: windows into other people's daily bubbles. Lives on tap. Real time. Installment by installment we discover how across the world we've got things to say to someone who we won't likely meet in person over Sophocles in a cafe. And though I love this, because like most people I'm a horrible snoop---eavesdropping is my chosen addictionâ€--I've started to feel diluted this week. My literary diet has grown sparce.
I've got a whole stack of books on my shelf that I've been meaning to read: meaty stuff (no Homer this time though) that requires me to do more than click for comments.
Being well read has always been on my long list of "To do this lifetime" items, and this past month I;ve barely gotten through the front page of the Wall Street Journal most mornings, when we sit together DH, Bean and I on a bench downtown, with our iced coffees and bagels.
Of course this has much to do with the fact that Bean is truly crawling now, suddenly and with fierce determination towards electrical cords and the cat's water bowl, than it does with anything else. But it also has to do with self discipline.
This is not a new topic for me. The terrible internal struggle to focus, to say more than what's just at the surface, to delve into the issues is one I am constantly waging.
Winter is coming, the few scattered orange leaves on the sidewalk tell me so, floating vein-side up in the puddles. In just a few short months the trees will be bare, the sky raw gray, the water cold. It is time to refocus, gathering myself towards my own embering center. Starting now.