Do You Have a System?

Paul recently commented after reading my latest Monthly Reading Pool:

I have challenged myself to read a book from each shelf in the fiction section. … My goal is to pick at least one book from each shelf, and to do 2 shelves each trip (that way I can still get books on my regular reading list). … There are some obvious flaws in my plan (the library devotes 6 complete shelves to James Patterson).

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Now I have exposed various systems for selecting my monthly reading list through the years, most recently various schemes to transfer my reading from paper and ink books to digital reading with easier to read font sizes. I have also forced the inclusion of a few “real” books in an effort to reduce the large numbers of books I had to move and find bookshelves for at my new home.

Notice that these systems are mostly concerned with storage space, failing eyesight, and the inevitable onset of death.

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Invictus

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Okay. How many of you out there were forced to memorize this “thrilling” poem in Junior High? How did it improve your life? Or did it turn you away from poetry forever?

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

– By William Ernest Henley

Turning in the Widening Gyre

imgres.jpgI attended university back in the 1960s. Although I studied English (EngLangLit) I was careful with my credits and ended up with both a Major in English and a Minor in Comparative Literature. One of my professors was a young Frank Lentricchia: I have actually forgotten what the course was (could it have been W. B. Yeats?). Since I was graduating, I was searching around for a decent graduate program which would both accept me and give me enough money to pursue an advanced degree in English. One of the professors I received a recommendation from was Lentricchia. Interestingly, his path for me led to a college on Long Island (Stonybrook), not far from the train station to Manhattan. If I had gone that way, instead of the mid-west college (Washington University) I ended up in, how different would my life have been?

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