Hi. I know, times are scary. We have this . . . whatever? . . . sifting around through the air, clinging to surfaces, dripping out of the eyes of our children, who won’t get sick themselves, but who serve as carriers, like mosquitoes, nibbling away at our lives and good fortune.
You’re bored! Aren’t we all bored, trapped inside, quarantined, afraid of our neighbors, angry and, many of us, temporarily out of school and work. Some of us sink into despair. For example, me might troll around social media, seeking something that pisses you off, then feeling better about yourself by trying to make some anonymous face feel worse. Yes, that’s an option, but perhaps this is a time for soul-searching.
Now, before those wizards created the internet, before smart phones and color TVs and YouTube–long before Netflix and Amazon and five hundred and fifty-eight channels to flip through, before these distractions there was one long form of solitary entertainment available inside the home.
Yes, books. People used to read books. They felt good in your hands and somehow made you smarter, no matter the story, no matter the length.
People could read about anything! They could read their bible, or fairy tales, myths, legends, the searing prophecies from holy men and lunatics. There were poems, novels, short fiction and graphic literature. And these stories could be about anything, from some rat crawling out of a hole and wondering what the world’s about, all the way to a super-intelligence downloaded into a space machine, yearning to be human and destroying whatever humanity gets in its way.
One could read a good horror story about a bloodthirsty monster, or settle into handkerchiefs and tears, feeling joy through the romance, sorry at the inevitable death of a fateful character, and then relief when everything turns out all right in the end.
Sometimes the books were vicious, cruel satires or outright attacks on the way we live now. Often these negative rants were so profound that new schools of thought surrounded them. Sometimes . . . sometimes these tomes were called ‘philosophy.’
If you ask me, however, my primary interest, at least these days (I graduated college with an English Literature degree, then slogged through some mediocre classes before getting hired as a high school English teacher, a career that is thankfully at its end), it is the study of history. Any history, from a long time ago, before anything could be verified, all the way up until today, when footnotes are culled from opinion sheets, and the search for truth gets numbed and buried by the fact that someone else has written about the same person or era or event, and has come to an entirely different conclusion. History as the death of truth.
Anyway, perhaps this can help you through boredom. Throughout the essays on recordingeditorialhistory.com I have promoted many books, each of them from the marvelous online used book site abebooks.com. Should you somehow be compelled, please visit them. Literally anything in print is available for a price . . .