Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Reading (01/25/07)
- TITLE: My Sister, Socrates
By TJ Nickel
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I was strong in my purity at first, as the forty pages of Dillard rolled over and under and all around my idealism. So wordy, so descriptive I no longer care, so all over the place. Does this lady ever get to the point? What’s the title? Oh. At this pace, she’ll probably reach that Tinker Creek on page 400. I put the book down. I left it there.
That was eight years ago. Today, it sits on my bookshelf with that page marked, page forty-seven. Once during those eight years, about a year ago, I picked it up to read a chapter concerning time. Obsessed with the possibility I had found a new idea – finally, finally unraveled from this trap my sister set for me – finally free and back in time to the purity that was before Dillard. It sits, forty-seven pages and one chapter on time read so far. It’ll take me a lifetime to read that book, because I hate it.
It wasn’t Pilgrim at Tinker Creek that got the ball rolling necessarily, but it was the one in the beginning. It started a trend, and I reached out for authors that could get to the point faster. I liked essays and quick bits on philosophy, simple stories, quick, quick - each one of them painful to read. I hated the lineage of writers before me. I liked it better when I didn’t know they existed.
I never read because I didn’t want my brain tainted. That sophist ruined me, and I can never go back. I can never pretend to be original and pure. Instead, I’m a con, a configurator of other’s works, and my shreds of originality only remain enough to make up words like ‘configurator’.
I read those quick works of thought that raced to the point. Some C.S. Lewis theology. Then, I made a huge mistake and picked up his fiction. Devastated. I went back to the theology and philosophy. All this grace I’ve heard about in the Christian life, in Christian books, I’ve got something to say about that. Really, a new ‘toucher-of- purity’ said to me, “Ever read Willard?” So, like a fool, I did. Depression. All I intended to say one day in my fame and glory had already been said. I had read it myself. I was no longer needed. Freedom.
Free in my decrepit existence, I read, and read, and read, and read. I became less pure, less pure, more knowledgeable, less capable of thought. I became that walking basket of quotes and snips of information that made me sound, learned, of all things, learned! My originality came from a lack of structured learning. I hated that circle, and the entire institution of learning, for my absence from its circle. I hate to read. I hate writers. I hate that others have had these thoughts, and possessed the bravery to state them. They write better than me, too. Freedom.
Then I was caught in my first original thought in years, and I raced to write it, obliged to fulfill my calling, loving the lack of freedom - my time had come to tell the world about time; how it really worked. Then I read, and so many had already said it. So many! How did I not learn of this? Even in higher education? How do the masses not walk around aware of this? I still hate that institution, even more because I’ve read.
My sister, my sophist, turned out to be my Socrates. She wrote nothing, and gave me the world of literature in which to know myself as a part of. I’ve read other Dillard, and now I love her works. Sis calls me to ask about Pilgrim, and I tell her I haven’t forgiven her enough to read it. It’s my last pathetic tragedy, to write its words before reading it, and have Sis call me out as the con she turned me into.
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