On Reading and Writing

I think that when I once began this version of my thoughts in the shape of words and paragraphs, I said that I would take pleasure in commenting upon a few authors and their pieces of writing, that I consider excelling in all manners or some.

Now, to begin, I’d first say a few thoughts on writing instead of reading. Writing demands time and passion, also skill. Without skill and style, one may put an infinite amount of words into a sentence, but it will mean nothing and it will be valued as nothing. The song that I have selected as the ‘Current Music’ somehow reflects this complication that I feel about writing, and, more to the point, writing well. Writing well means that there are already concepts that can be developed — I would take the historical backgrounds that Ryotaro Shiba and Robert Graves present us, and compare them to the nationalistic passions that Henryk Sienkiewicz so well materialises… the eloquent style and form of Hermann Hesse, or the grandiose descriptions of John Tolkien and Arthur Clarke, utilized very differently, but still enhancing the bigger picture.

‘And I will start again… Make a wish…’
— Conjure One, ‘Make a Wish’

Writing also demands much other resources — firstly, one cannot simple write since it demands a special mood of sorts that I am at a loss to describe though I am sure that people who do write (occasionally) know what I hereby mean; secondly, the concept should not merely be stating what thousands have already stated, but to try (and to succeed) in putting to paper something new, or, at the very least, something that few others have done well.

Today, I managed to reflect that I have likely not read any non-English or non-Japanese author in the past two or three months. Oh, sure, I have read Eliot, Clarke, Kawabata, Shiba, Graves, Maugham, Tolkien, and some others. But not a single non-English/Japanese writer in this time-span. Possibly, the last one from other sources that I read was Hemingway whose ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’ was, simply put, excellent. To specify, this does not exclude various foreign newspapers (American, Australian, British) and magazines that I happen to read or skim in what detail I can, but a newspaper or a magazine is far different from a decent novel. In any case, I happened to read Plato’s ‘Apology’ today, and I found it compelling. Compelling to think, compelling to be. But, just to further prove my earlier words, I did happen to the library a few days ago (might have been yesterday… but I lose track of such details since they are of no consequence), and who did I lend..? Kawabata (The Master of Go), Graves (Count Belisarius), Maugham (Razor’s Edge), and Clavell (Tai-pan).

Anyways, I think that I wished to say a few words about reading as well. Reading demands attention, even more so than writing, mainly because of the little details or stylistic nuances that writers like to add into their works. Reading books of good style is easy — reading those which are said to be ‘classic’ or ‘superb’ is however a different thing. Indeed, many of these so-proclaimed grand works amount to very little in my eyes. A true good book can be sensed when looked upon, when read. One should not have to exert more than the usual concentration to remain fixed in a book. If that happens, then the book is simply over-worked. The young writer’s (Paolini, might have been) series of a dragon-boy and whatnot come to mind which simply have the English-English dictionary written into themselves.

As a final thought, I’d like to say that what makes for a good read should also make for a good quote. Both Plato’s ‘Apology’, and Robert Graves’ ‘Count Belisarius’ offer for many such instances. I am sure that I need not be disappointed with any other of the books that I lent. Nor in any of the authors I mentioned in the lists before. What about others though?

Edit: 27-11-2010. Fixed an error: I attributed the lyrics present in this text to Enigma instead of Conjure One.

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