1) If you're going to read something, read the whole thing. Don't skip parts. Don't read only what you feel like. If I read the entirety of Gertrude Stein's "Tender Buttons"(which I did) because it was assigned to me (which it was), you can suck it up and finish whatever you're whining about. To do anything less is both dishonest and inefficient.
After all, you wouldn't let someone into your house or office casually and for a few minutes at a time. If you're going to let someone in, you've got to strip-search him first for security reasons, and once you've done that you should listen to all he's got to say before you go strip-search anyone else.
2) Someone who reads two works at once, flipping back and forth from one to the other, will develop two minds and be in constant struggle with his own self. Someone who reads three works at once (out of order, no less) is not to be trusted.
If you want people to trust you, read one thing at a time. If you don't want people to trust you, you won't be able to serve the state very effectively as a spy, now, will you?
3) You can't read an unfinished novel on a five-year plan! Let an author finish, let the censors and/or publishers do their careful selective work, and then begin reading with a firm goal and resolute discipline.
Mark my words: the impatience of the digital age will be the death of our society. And I'm not saying that just because I'm a communist.
4) "Meme" is a four-letter word, and I don't really want to discuss it. Let one simple rule close off the subject forever: those who read should not write, those who write should not read. It would also help if they could avoid listening to anyone.
5) If you encounter a counter-revolutionary writer, counter him. In other words: it's OK to tell someone who writes like a decadent hobo that he also smells like a decadent hobo, and that if he doesn't thoroughly revise, he ought to be shot like a decadent hobo, too.
6) Children should be seen, not heard. Readers shouldn't even be seen. Make yourself invisible and let the text fill you. What is important is what's in a revolutionary book, not what might happen in the space between you and that book. Mixing the book and yourself is a particularly offensive sort of bastardization.
7) We should look less to words than to people. If words make castles in the air, they also make prisons there. Stalin is hope. Words are despair.
On Drive and Contentment in Hamilton and My Life - I first listened to the musical Hamilton just after my friend Mel Leilani Larson got back from a trip to New York raving about the show, when she told us t...
6 months ago