BOOKS ARE OUR BEST COMPANIONS

I want to read what I have collected. I want to read them before my ‘memory theatre’s curtain’ drops. In books, I find my ideas, convictions, identity, and language. As someone said, “Tell me what you read, and I’ll tell you who you are.” I am told, “If you have the appetite of unnecessary accumulation, reduce it.” I hope only books will tell me if it is unnecessary accumulation or otherwise. I am aware that some people have the obsession to possess or hoard books. We collect books, but don’t read them. We collect books to decorate bookshelves. Some say bibliomania is a disease. Bibliophilia, on the other hand, is love for books. Lending a good book is almost like losing a book. Some bibliophiles go even to the extent of stealing books. “People who are scrupulously honest in all their other dealings don’t think that failure to return a book to its owner is theft in the usual sense of the term,” writes Theodore  Dalrymple.  If one appropriates a book of someone who merely keeps it, but doesn’t do justice to it, it is misappropriation. One doesn’t deserve to keep a book if he doesn’t know how to use it wisely or keep it securely. Soon I will start reading Tagore in Bengali.  I will read it slowly.  I am beginning to understand that slow reading makes a lot of sense. John Miedema writes, “If you want the deep experience of a book, if you want to internalize it, to mix an author’s ideas with your own and make it a more personal experience, you have to read it slowly.”

Life has sped up. Speed reflects modernity and modernisation.  It offers exhilaration as well as stress. It creates as well as closes the gaps. It rejuvenates as well as kills. It gives pleasure as well as pain. In nanoseconds, we want to know everything.  Does speed increase or decrease our efficiency? Does speed add or curtails our time for leisure? Does speed liberate or enslave? Is speed bringing people closer or creating deep divisions? Can’t imaginative ideas emerge in moments of idleness? Slow speed is a nuisance, cognitively speaking, but that is what is also needed for our cognitive health.  Are we losing our ability to endure the long shot, the slow dissolves, and the sustained monologue?  Everything can’t be done quickly.  Acceleration is not sustainable in all situations. We read more, but reflect less. We are writing more. Perhaps, we are making lesser errors. Perhaps, we are writing less thoughtfully.

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