Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Ivory Cubicle | Camp Update and C.S. Lewis on Reading

Hello from sunny Riverside, California! iGovern Pacific is in full wing and everything is going absolutely swimmingly. Josh and Lucas have instigated a massive camp-wide dart game, campers are hard at work passing legislation to grant highly-trained platypodes (alleged plural of "platypus") to each member of the Generation Joshua staff, and Gold Party has crafted an excellent plan to dominate the presidential election. Our resident student-run Generation Joshua tabloid, A Joke in the Life of GenJ, is hard at work propagating as much misinformation as possible, so it behooves me to set the record straight.

GenJers at the Reagan Library
1). Yes, I was kicked out of the Senate. This occurred shortly after I made a motion to amend the platypus bill to ensure that President Pro-Tempore Glenn Bertsch would receive a male platypus (which happens to be poisonous). In an abuse of power, Sen. Bertsch had me removed from the chamber. My motion was clearly in order.

2). Glenn did indeed say 'I am the Senate' shortly after saying 'I am the State.' No, he was not wearing a robe at the time, contrary to what this image may indicate. He was wearing plaid shorts and a t-shirt because, well, what else would you expect Glenn to wear?

3). No, the FEC has not set up an Inquisition room. It's more like the Bank of Evil from Despicable Me. Yes, we do play the Imperial March upon students entering.

In addition, the Gold Party is proposing legislation recommending the repeal of Executive Order 66 and granting asylum to Jedi refugees.

More seriously, last night featured an awesome time of worship, and it's been incredible seeing these kids live out their faith in the midst of the high pressure politicking (to use a British word) we put them through.

Anyways. This column is supposed to be a bit philosophical, and I apologize for being unable to write anything this week. I'll be back on schedule next week. In the interim, enjoy this little thought-provoking blip I found in one of C.S. Lewis' lesser known works concerning the difference between the "literary" and "unliterary" reader. I know it's prompted me to try to knock some bad reading habits I've had.
Already in our schooldays some of us were making our first responses to good literature. Others, and these the majority, were reading, at school, The Captain, and, at home, short-lived novels from the circulating library. But it was apparent then that the majority did not 'like' their fare in the way we 'liked' ours. It is apparent still. The differences leap to the eye.
In the first place, the majority never read anything twice. The sure mark of an unliterary man is that he considers ‘I’ve read it already’ to be a conclusive argument against reading a work. We have all known women who remembered a novel so dimly that they had to stand for half an hour in the library skimming through it before they were certain they had once read it. But the moment they became certain, they rejected it immediately. It was for them dead, like a burnt-out match, an old railway ticket, or yesterday’s paper; they had already used it. Those who read great works, on the other hand, will read the same work ten, twenty or thirty times during the course of their life.
Secondly, the majority, though they are sometimes frequent readers, do not set much store by reading. They turn to it as a last resource. They abandon it with alacrity as soon as any alternative pastime turns up. It is kept for railway journeys, illnesses, odd moments of enforced solitude, or for the process called 'reading oneself to sleep'. They sometimes combine it with desultory conversation; often, with listening to the radio. But literary people are always looking for leisure and silence in which to read and do so with their whole attention. When they are denied such attentive and undisturbed reading even for a few days they feel impoverished.
Thirdly, the first reading of some literary work is often, to the literary, an experience so momentous that only experiences of love, religion, or bereavement can furnish a standard of comparison. Their whole consciousness is changed. They have become what they were not before. But there is no sign of anything like this among the other sort of readers. When they have finished the story or the novel, nothing much, or nothing at all, seems to have happened to them.
Finally, and as a natural result of their different behavior in reading, what they have read is constantly and prominently present to the mind of the few, but not to that of the many. The former mouth over their favourite lines and stanzas in solitude. Scenes and characters from books provide them with a sort of iconography by which they interpret or sum up their own experience. They talk to one another about books, often and at length. The latter seldom think or talk of their reading.
-C.S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism 

Posted by Nick Barden

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