I received a friendly email from Arhaus.com. asking me if I would like to write a post about my ideal reading room.
I thought about this offer but decided I probably wasn’t the right person for the job for I don’t read much mainstream fiction. The enquiry did make me look at my own reading habits though.
Personally I like reading novels that help me understand the contemporary world. I usually read at the kitchen table and have a notebook beside me where I sometimes jot down passages from novels. I began this notebook in 2014. I rarely go back and refer to it but the enquiry from Arhaus led me to take a look. I discovered that many of the entries I’ve made follow a theme –
The first entry is from “Lost for Words” by Edward St Aubyn.
“We are at the point in history where it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of Capitalism…
We would rather watch a movie about the threat of a meteor from outer space than contemplate the actual impact of the Capitalist meteor on the Earth…
Finally this is of no importance because both catastrophes, the fantastic and the actual, are deployed to distract us from the desert of the Real into which we have marched the exhausted culture of the West. In this desert, it is forbidden to think.
Even if Capitalism is the crisis, Capitalism must be the solution.”
From “The Circle” by David Eggers –
“The Human Rights of the Digital Age
- We must all have the right to anonymity
- Not every human activity can be measured
- The ceaseless pursuit of data to quantify the value of any endeavour is catastrophic to true understanding.
- The barrier between public and private must remain understandable.
- We must have the right to disappear
From “Why are you so sad?” Jason Porter
“Have we all sunken into a species-wide bout of clinical depression? We are symptoms of a grieving planet.”
From “Open City” by Tesu Cole
“a cancerous violence had eaten into every political idea, had taken over the ideas themselves, and for so many, all that mattered was the willingness to do something. Action led to action, free of any moorings, and the way to be someone, the way to catch the attention of the young and to recruit them to one’s cause, was to be enraged.”
From “The Beach beneath the pavement” by Roland Dinning
(the narrator of the novel thinking about another character) – “Kepler seemed to be claiming the world was deliberately flooded with contradictory conspiracy theories creating maelstroms of confusion… Complexity, fear, uncertainty… these are essentials conditions for Post Credibility.
“they control us by giving us what we want so we have to stop wanting things. They want us to think life’s a supermarket and the longer the shelves are, the more free we are.”
and – “he’s internalised the system. It’s what we all end up doing, not what we think we’re doing… The silent copper in the head policing us from within.”
From “The Restoration Otto Laird” by Nigel Packer
“Everything has become a commodity nowadays: and maybe every person too. All of us have become commodities to each other. The profit motive has entered every sphere of life and its hegemony is complete.”
From “The Age of Magic” by Ben Okri
“ he felt momentarily free of the law he had invoked and set in motion: the law that says you are what you think you are. He also felt free of the other, more pernicious law: the one that says you are what the world thinks you are.
For a moment Lao felt free of the prison of the constructed self, free also from the tyranny of the attachment to things.
The first freedom is freedom of mind, he thought” maybe even, freedom from mind.”
If I were to describe my dream reading room I would have to say it would be a warm, bright kitchen with large wooden table. Cups of tea would magically appear when wanted and the coffee would be the best. People people from all over the world would be free to enter this room and discuss ideas found in books they had read.