Written for lovers of literature interested in self-actualization, Literature: How to Read and Understand the World teaches readers how to derive principles of wisdom from literature and apply them to their lives. The book achieves this through a series of five essential steps, including identifying with literary characters, aggregating principles of wisdom from their experience, and applying those principles to readers’ lives. Along the way, the author reveals his own transformation through this process. Literature: How to Read and Understand the World will help you to enrich your life and world!
Over the next several months, I will be releasing excerpts from the book along with questions to keep readers thinking after reading the posts. If you are intrigued by what you read, please share with a friend!
Realizing that in judging characters outside ourselves, we really seek to fortify qualities within ourselves is a powerful thing. In looking over my exercise on Lolita‘s Humbert Humbert, I realize that when I call the character “sick,” what I really seek to attest is that I myself am “well;” this is why I use Humbert as a gauge of my own “wellness,” that I may prove it to myself. Similarly, when I call Humbert “predatory,” what I really seek to demonstrate is that I myself am “fair,” by which I mean that my dallyings with the opposite sex are conducted fairly. Why would I need to believe this? Well, because if I were to consider that such engagements were anything but fair, then I would begin to call into question the history of my relationships, and this inquiry would test my masculinity; instead, I choose to judge Humbert as a means to distract from myself.
These articulations of awareness get at the essential yield of Antipodiatry, and also demonstrate why after performing an Antipodiatry exercise, we are usually ready to take the “leap” of Engaged Annotation: in examining our judgements of others, we invariably find that they are really meant as props to uphold certain stories about ourselves, and this makes us lose interest in them altogether; instead we become interested in learning what we can from characters outside ourselves, an interest which is simultaneously the trajectory of Engaged Annotation and the rest of our process of reading literature.
Do you think it is generally true that we use judgements of others to fortify stories about ourselves? If so, how can we release these judgements? And what do we stand to gain when we do so? For more on these topics, please follow my blog or grab a copy of the book for yourself.