The Crow's Dream

Philosophy, geekery, and the meaning if life, and what I read this week…

The Jungle Book

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But the jungle is large and the Cub he is small. Let him think and be still.
The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book has been a pleasant surprise. I’ve been reading some of the classics lately, and I am tickled  at how good they are. I know that as an English major I should have learned to appreciate literature, but all college gave me were some parameters upon which I had to base my observations. It is true that many of the books I read were very good, and insightful to boot, but I did not read them because I wanted to read them. I read them because I had to. My choices of books were determined by time periods or by literary movement. I think true literary appreciation comes from interacting with the materials in front of you out of love rather than duty. I now read the classics because I know that doing so connects me to the past, and helps me to belong to a rich and exiting lineage of writers.

The reason authors like Neil Gaiman and Neal Stephenson are amazing is because they are aware of their literary heritage. If you want to write you should read the classics, but read them only as they appeal to you, not as you think you should be reading them. Let them catch you when you least expect it. It is true that some of them will require more effort than others, but some of them will speak to you very clearly. I stumbled upon The Jungle Book online, and it caught me. I could not help it but to read it. I was ready for it. Leaves of Grass caught me by surprise also, as well as The Book of Tea, and everything by Mark Twain, and Ben Franklin. I am well read not because I studied literature, but because I stumbled upon it by accident. I tripped and fell over the works of the masters. I hope to continue to spill my mind over the soft and conforthing warmth of those who came before me.

I know how literature is supposed to be classified, and even how it is supposed to be taught. Believe me, I have the student loans to prove it, but there is more to reading than knowledge about reading. I enjoy the classics a lot more now than when I was in college. There is something about letting the books themselves guide you that invites the mind to adventure. 

Like The Jungle Book, there will be other inspiring books. Though I went to school to learn about classification, my library is not in order, but rather based on the whimsical discoveries and connections one can only make by happenstance. Maybe that is the only way to truly enjoy a book. When it demands your attention so loudly, that you have no other choice but to listen to it.

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Written by Hector

November 8, 2008 at 9:00 am

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