Posted by: gdevi | November 19, 2012

One Free Day

I am sitting here looking at all this work I have to do–mountains of papers and exams to grade, papers to write, things to read and review, reports to write, and all I want is one free day. One Free Day. I don’t think I will ever get one free day with nothing to do anymore ever before I die.  I seriously believe this now. I just want to wake up one morning and know that I have nothing to do. I just want to sit down with a book that I want to read for myself, not for teaching, not for a class, not for a review, not for an article, but just a book that I want to read for myself. My favorite memory of myself is when I used to wake up in the morning at home in India and this woman who used to work in our kitchen would make me these delicious rotis and potato stew and I would take a plate and pile some on it to eat go sit on this metal chair with red and black weaving on it in the pattern of small crucifixes near our dining room window and read Dostoevsky. I read The Brothers Karamazov like that. And the complete collection of Dostoevsky. And later Tolstoy, Conrad, Nabakov, Faulkner and Hemingway. I must have been 18 or 19  years old then. It was incredible. This woman or my mother would bring me something to eat now and then. It was a delicious way to live. I don’t think I will ever be able to experience that ever again. I wish I could do that again: just sit here and read something heavy and ponderous like The Man Without Qualities, which I again recently read somewhere is the one novel nobody apparently reads from start to finish. I may be the only person who has read it from start to finish. Books I would want to read in this state of delicious paralysis are:

Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy

Richard Burton, The Thousand and One Nights

Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams

Roberto Calasso, The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony

Howard Zinn, The People’s History of the United States

Naguib Mahfouz, The Cairo Trilogy

Patrick White, Voss

Jorge Luis Borges, The Book of Sand, A Universal History of Infamy

I have read all of these before, but as I get older, I realize that I have absolutely no desire to read new books. It is very strange and it is probably not a good thing; be forward-thinking and all that, but I really have no longing to read a new book, unless it was something that got a highly superlative review in the NYT Book Review or the TLS. But I don’t think I will ever get One completely Free Day again ever in my life before I die. I am sure of it, looking at the amount of things I have to do. Same as it ever was same as it ever was same as it ever was same as it ever was.


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