Reading: The Act of Existential Rebellion
Reading lets us rebel against the greatest degradation: being a slave of one’s age.
Richard Wright escaped poverty and the South by taking the northbound to Chicago in 1927. He wrote about it his semi-autobiographical, Black Boy.
A Catholic had loaned Wright his library card, which Wright used to read H. L. Mencken essays and other leading writers of the 1920s.
His reading gave him “vague glimpses of life’s possibilities.”
“Rosary Ntz.” That’s what Baltimore’s violent junkie turned do-gooder Rafael Alvarez keeps on the radiator where he says his Rosary. It’s a notebook where he writes down what comes to him during the meditation.
“Wait!” I thought when I read that, “You can do that? That’s legal? You can stop mid-chain and jot down thoughts?”
It passed approval with the editorial lights of The Lamp, so I guess it’s okay. I’m gonna start doing that. In fact, I’ve already started, using my commonplace book.
Richard Wright taking the northbound. Me jotting down Rosary notes.
Two doors opened by reading.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
Few things are more degrading than being a child of the modern age.
“Prison wife” comes closest.
We can’t choose our birth era, but we can emancipate ourselves from it.
Modernity is the Great Rejection: the rejection of the Tao. Anything we can do to contact the Tao is an act of emancipation, and things like meditation and prayer are near acts of existential rebellion.
But there are many other means of emancipation. Some good; some bad.
We can Borden ourselves to emancipation.
Lizzie Borden took an axe,
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.
Going off the grid or hitting the road, doing drugs, looking for kicks in a non-stop quest to escape modernity.