Yesterday’s Reading in Review

So, yesterday, I read the following:

  • A little bit of Plato’s Phaedo.
  • A portion of the Akkadian myth of Marduk and Tiamat.
  • The first half of the Tao Te Ching
  • Alien Legion #10, an Epic/Marvel comic book from 1985.

Geez, I feel like I am in college again.

Except I wasn’t that diligent about reading in college. A couple illustrations:

  • One semester, I tried to keep up with the reading, briefly. I was taking six classes of philosophy and English, so it amounted to about 200 pages per night. That meant I got up at five, worked a couple hours at the grocery store, went to classes, went back to work at the grocery store for a couple hours, went to a campus even sometimes, and then came home to read until midnight. I did this for two weeks my junior or senior year, and I kept up with the assigned reading. But I realized if anything made me fall behind, I would never catch up. So I went back to my normal pattern of keeping up with the classes and picking and choosing the texts to read.
  • One day, I was standing in the English department, leaning against a wall waiting for a meeting with a professor, when Russ Reising, the literature professor, came along. I was reading The Blithesdale Romance as I stood there, which I was supposed to already have finished for his class. I held up the book so he could see I was reading it, and he looked over the top of it to see where I was, which was not far into it indeed. “Almost finished,” I said, slamming the book closed to hide how untrue that was. Later in class, he said, “How about the ending, Brian?”
  • One semester, I took a course on Ben Jonson, the playwright contemporary to Shakespeare, and (predictably) I fell behind in the reading for the class, so in the week leading up to finals week, I read a play a night (which wasn’t too bad–it wasn’t 200 pages a night, but it was a bit of a slog). The last class before the final, he said anyone who had an A in the class already could skip the final, and, as it turns out, I did. The A was on the basis of comparing Jonson’s play Sejanus His Fall to Machiavelli’s The Prince and to show how many of the rules Sejanus broke. Apparently, and unbeknown to me, the professor had written a book similar to my paper, and I didn’t come across it in my research. Because, face it, my research was to take things I’d already read in other classes and apply them to topics of the current class to streamline my paper writing and research. I didn’t go looking for scholarly work on it. As it turns out, my reading was not required. But it comprises volume one of a two-volume set of Jonson I picked up later, so I only have to read the second when I find it.

Not included in yesterday’s reading: Perfect Dark: Initial Vector, a book based on the video game series that I picked up after Perfect Dark was the answer in a trivia night a couple weeks ago. My mother-in-law asked me on Sunday what I was reading, and I’d just started that paperback.

So if you ask me what I’m reading, the day that you ask me is apparently very important as to whether I give the impression of a well read scholar or a garden variety geek.

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