To Read Or Not To Read; That Is the Question

I’ve often wondered about literary opinion, and how literary opinion differs between people. Everyone understands the world in a different way to somebody else, and so naturally, they will understand literature differently too. Literature, and one’s attitude and understanding towards it, depends on experiences. Experiences of education, literature, whether you enjoyed your lessons when you were in primary school, whether you have a natural love of reading. These are all key factors in understanding what literature is, and whether you enjoy it, or despise it.

I know people who have yet to finish an entire book, and I suspect there are people who go their whole lives barely reading books and magazines. This is of course, a life choice. Whether you want to read or not is entirely up to you; education demands a certain amount of reading. If you choose a literature, or essay based degree, you’ll find reading to be nonnegotiable. Arts courses tend to be much more vocational, and this choice depends very much on the style of learning one is accustomed to.

Philosophy of the Mind (1)

It’s difficult to know how you’ll feel about different kinds of literature, until you experience it. For example, I don’t like all kinds of literature. I really dislike mythical Greek and Roman texts, as well as finding James Joyce’s Ulysses utterly intolerable. Some regard it as an example of the greatest literary creation of all time. I think it is a grammatical abomination, and something that is so complicated that it begins to lose its point, because it’s completely inaccessible. Conversely however, I thoroughly enjoy T.S Eliot, who is well-known for regarding literature as an elite pursuit and past time.

Philosophy is something else that is considered highbrow, and rarely brought down to an accessible level. It is complicated because it involves thinking about the makings of the universe, and theorizing on that most illusive of characters, knowledge. However it’s less complex than some think; it’s a matter of having a good teacher and a simple reader, to introduce someone to the rudimentary elements of philosophy. There’s no need to over-complicate things, and dive straight into analysis on Plato’s dialogues.

I consider literature to be one of my greatest loves, and I consider almost everything to be literature. I think that the well-written blog can be considered literature of all sorts; some blogs can be understood as literotica, some can be understood as beautiful prose. New writing is the writing that will one day be considered classic, and will belong to the modern cannon, and so I think it’s important to look at new literature, read magazines, of all kinds; fashion, photography, literary; they’re all part of a modern culture that will, like all cultures before it, be revered by future generations.

It’s all about enjoyment, you see. Culture is formulated through the things that people enjoy; a city with a strong opera programme tends to become linked to the opera as a pursuit and therefore becomes a cultural construct. To this end, we create our own culture. I’d like to think we do, at least.

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(1) http://philosophy.uchicago.edu/workshops/_files/Philosophy-of-Mind-Workshop.jpg

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Granta: The Magazine of New Writing

Granta  is one of those publications in the world that allows new, aspiring writers to publish their new work. Reading the magazine allows the reader to feel as though they too are the edge of literary development. Literature breaks ground every single day; the process never ends, and it remains to evolve over and over again.

Personally, I’ve had a subscription for two years, since I was sixteen years old. I adore the magazine, and I read it, and annotate it to pieces every time it flies through my letterbox. Recently I was re- acquainted with the charm of literature; it began to elude me for a little while, when I was studying for A levels that were at best robotic, and almost dehumanizing. The systematic study of a text essentially begins to remove a personal perception or interpretation; working towards a mark scheme only adds to the sense of futility of actually studying a text. It removes the mystical beauty of it and instead creates a monster completely lacking in soul.

A Collection of Magazines.

So I read through it, at the same time as I plough my way through Rivkin and Ryan and their collection of literature. I read, and I read and I hope that one day, I’ll be published in it. I’ll go straight to Ikea and buy the biggest and most beautiful photo frame and stick it up, right on the wall, where I can see it everyday.

As far as I can see, writing takes a huge amount of discipline; much more than anyone really gives them credit for, because without an office, and a cubicle, a person has to sit down and write of their own accord… push through the writer’s block, completely alone. That is possibly very unsatisfying; being completely alone in your quest to create something worth publishing, or something that people will want to read, however at the same time, there must be a degree of liberation in being entirely dependant on yourself; it is only you that makes it happen, and so when it does happen, and the words are flying off the keyboard, making pretty pictures, and pretty metaphors, then the success is entirely yours. It is literally yours alone, and you don’t have to share with anyone.

So being a part of the aspirational world of the written word can really only be a blessing, and something to be proud of. Anyone who wants to join can, but only those who really want everything in it get to stay for the long run.

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