The Pleasures of Distraction in an Age of Reading

My “To Read” stack is beginning to scare me.

Strike that.

I fear the divine wrath may strike me down for my pretense of building a tower “the top whereof may reach to heaven.”

I began George Steiner’s excellent Real Presences a couple months ago before I had to abandon it to a project with a hot deadline. The remaining half of Balthasar’s Love Alone Is Credible has haunted me since December (mostly because the first half haunted me with what I can only describe as the residue of a mystic experience — his? That of his friend, Von Speyer?). I picked up Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer in January, but guilt made me put it back down, knowing it would be a neglected child for the foreseeable future. And my Lenten reading, BXVI’s Jesus of Nazereth, Part II, is still waiting to be resurrected.

This does not include the last few chapters of The Grapes of Wrath that must be completed if my lecture on the book next week is to have any credibility whatsoever. Also remaining is Roger Scruton’s Beauty, a quarry I’ve hunted across the seas oceans of the past twenty months but have yet to sink my harpoon into (I did, however, manage to beach Moby Dick last month!).

But two more arrived yesterday: The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, and To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World.

The latter was recommended by a friend, and is supposed to contain a lengthy, edifying discussion of culture — one, I hope, more thoughtful than the typically trite discussion we hear in many American Christian circles these days.

The former I look forward to since I am sure distractions will keep me from it for some time — darn you, tasty, lived irony.

But can reading be its own distraction? Ugh. Data skewing positive.

I may have to take on some interns. Any hands?

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