Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: classic literature

Does Our Conscience or Comrades Guide Our Actions?

Is it our internal conscience or external comrades that goad us in one direction or another? Our moral compass or our constant associates? Our upbringing or our society?

“I am willing to believe each of us has a guardian angel, if you fellows will concede to me that each of us has a familiar devil as well.”

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
Donald's conscience guiding him.
Photo from IMDb

Remember this one? Donald Duck with the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other.

I’ve always considered it a representation of our conscience, the impulse to do good or evil, to consider ourselves or others, Jiminy Cricket imploring us to do what’s right. Yeah, I watched a lot of cartoons and movies growing up. But could it be more?

In this story, I believe Marlowe is asking us to consider the company we keep and how it could influence our actions. Humans are greatly influenced by the people that surround them. We are driven to fit in and belong. No matter what our personal feelings are, if we’re surrounded by evil, we all tend to succumb to the “When in Rome…” idea.

There are so many sayings that put forward this idea. They keep popping up in my head! Didn’t your mom ask you, “If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you?” Of course, you would! That’s what humans do.

We have evolved to live in groups. It’s safer and far more productive than living alone. We band together in families, clans, communities, states, and nations. We share resources. We emotionally bond with others. We are stronger in groups. Even a Bible verse comes to mind, “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12

Maybe we should consider the company that we keep. And, when considering the guilt of another, that person’s company as well. Sometimes we fall into the wrong crowd. Sometimes we get swept along with the current. And sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to just to stay alive.

This is the first of my posts on this book. If you want to read more, you’ll find a list of posts at the bottom of my first post, “Joseph Conrad is my Next Read: Lord Jim”

“The Pleasures of Reading in an Ideological Age”

The Pleasures of Reading book on a bookshelf background.

“The Pleasures of Reading…”

The title, “The Pleasures of Reading in an Ideological Age,” sounds so deliciously pretentious! I love it!

I take a lot of pleasure in reading but I haven’t taken a “literature” class since public high school and I never had any intention of taking one again. Yes, I’m a bit of a book snob. THAT book is trash, THIS one is a classic. But honestly, I know what one reads is just a matter of personal taste. I’m 40 pages into this and now I want to take an actual class and see what happens. It’s on my to-do list to look a free one up online.

You’re going to laugh, but I’m not much of a deep reader. I choose to read what I like. If I pick up something and I find it too hard to read or unenjoyable for some reason, I put it down. There are just too many books out there to read. That doesn’t mean I think it’s a bad book or completely useless, though. It just isn’t what I need at the moment. I have started to read things that drove me bonkers and only to come back to them years later and devoured them. Like that guy you knew in high school and fought with daily, but you meet years later and fall in love…shit…too many romance novels lately!

This book is one of those more difficult reads. It has big words! I have to pay closer attention to understand and much of what he’s talking about is beyond me. That’s why I want to take a class. I feel like I understand what I’m reading intuitively but I’d like to understand on a more academic level. I’d like to see what they see and know the historical and philosophical significance of the more serious books that I dive into.

“Literary language is an intricate, inventively designed vehicle for setting the mind in restless pleasing motion, which in the best of cases may give us a kind of experiential knowledge relevant to our lives outside of reading.”

The Pleasures of reading in an ideological age by robert alter

Sometimes we read to get information, like newspapers, nonfiction, magazine articles, and manuals. Sometimes we read to escape from life for a bit; “dime store” novels and pulp fiction. But other times we read to experience a world, a relationship, a feeling outside our own. We use what we learn in those hours of lives glimpsed through the pages of a book in our own lives.

That’s why we read, Charlie Brown!


Find “The Pleasures of Reading in an Ideological Age” on Thriftbooks and read along with me. If you do, be sure to comment so I know you’re out there. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

I’ve written some posts about the book, thoughts on quotes and ideas triggered while I was reading.
Can the Free Association of Writing Help You Find Yourself?
The Love of Classic Books Can Help Humanity Be More Empathetic
Cultural Literacy is the Key to Communication on the Internet


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The Old Man and The Sea

Am I too far from the sea to read this?

I usually have several quotes to share about a book I’m reading: things that struck me, bits I want to remember or that brings me to some idea I want to expand on, possibly not even related to the book itself but to a bigger thought…but not this time.

This time it was more about the story. There wasn’t much to pull out of it in pieces. It was more of a feeling. Reading it, I could feel myself swept away to sea, pulled by the story instead of a fish. Like the old man, I have nothing to sell at the end of the adventure, but I do have scars to show.

What happens to him next? Does he end up dying? Going out again? Why did he follow such a big fish and what could he have done differently?

I do have one piece to pull out of the story to save for later.

“Luck is a thing that comes in many forms and who can recognize her?”

Sometimes we see something and think…that was lucky…only to find later that it was not. Other times we pray for our luck to change when, in the long run, what’s happening is the luck we were looking for. It reminds me to take what comes and see what happens instead of wishing for a change.

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