The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives


This morning, the morning books were not working. They have grown in number, which is part of the problem. Really there should be only one morning book; perhaps two. The book should be both rigorous enough to require some attention (which helps one to wake up) but also interesting enough to provide a spark of alertness to carry over into the rest of the day. If there is more than one book, they should be quite different or, at the very least, distinct. For a while I had been successful with two or three morning books, particularly when two different translations of, say, Gilgamesh, were involved. Somehow, though, I have managed to get up to five. Two of them are perfect for their moment – I have no complaints about Wealth of Nations or Abigail Williams’s The Social Life of Books, which I might not attend to later in the day, but are perfect for morning reading.

The other three books, however, are driving me a bit batty, as the authorial voices are so strident and overpowering that rather than giving tone to the day, they deaden any mental acuity I might possess. This was truly a surprise in the case of a Kafka’s aphorisms, which, if I was not expecting to enjoy, I was at least hoping to find interesting. But they are scarcely aphorisms (although this comes of reading them immediately after finishing La Rochefoucauld, who provides very stereotypical aphorisms by the book), and the commentary, while illuminating, is also disheartening, as it provides a snapshot of the author as a person who, well, relished his self-defeating habits and nourished them like queasy distempered kittens.1 A rather dismal way to start the day.

  1. My apologies to all kittens. And habits. []


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