Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Summer "Looking"

Last weekend I volunteered at an event at the Theosophical Society of America. I became a member there because the mix of philosophical and religious banter that goes on at their meetings, events, and study groups. But mostly because they have an ivy-covered, musty old library that I would camp in if they'd let me.

The First Theosophers


I am not sure yet what I think of "Theosophy." I am not sure if it's silly or not. So far it seems like a good balance of inner and outer living and thought. The philosophers are stuck in the library, slaves to the books, and the New Agers are too busy getting enlightened to ever pick up a book. Theosophy falls somewhere in between, and seems to have a sense of humor about itself.



The TSA pres. She looks well balanced!


I heard a woman at TSA say she "Can't read deep stuff outside." She is "too expanded" when she is in nature. As hokey as that sounds, I totally understood what she was saying. I don't agree that what her friend was reading was "deep" (it had the word Krishna in the title) because I think by "deep," she meant serious or difficult reading that requires full attention. But whatever type of reading you like to get intellectual about, summer is not a good time for it if you intend to enjoy the outdoors too.


Some reading requires a library setting, or at least a chair, indoors, with references and tea at easy reach.


So I am in a quandry. I've planned a hefty summer reading list for myself. Although I can get through Victorian word-proliferation while sitting on the lawn in the sun -- the words are pretty enough that they jibe with the setting -- I can't get through Plato. And I certainly can't get through Post-Structuralism.


I've been taking obscenely detailed notes on the French thinkers, because I know I'm not absorbing a thing I'm looking at. I say "looking at" because that's all I'm doing. Looking, and maybe translating into normal-speak. But not reading.


I am expanded, I must admit. It's nothing to be ashamed of. Perhaps, also, the reading is more difficult than I am used to. I normally skate by with night-before speed reading and in-class re-reading. And I never had a problem retaining it. Part of my current problem is that I can't admit that I may have come across something I actually have to read more than once. So I admit that too. I'm not as amazingly academic as I thought I was.


I've never had to study before. What does it look like? The word conjures up images of people laying on the floor over piles of books and knitting papers together. For some reason it always made me think of knitting. That's what they do, they put all the papers together into a fabric of knowledge or an "information scarf." You wear it like a badge so everyone can ask you, "Did you knit that yourself?" But scarves are for fall. I won't start my knitting until then.


"Tee hee! My boyfriend knitted it.
He's heavily into philosophy and stuff!"


I am going to Kauai tomorrow. I am bringing Phaedrus with me for long insomniatic nights in the tent. I am bringing Galapagos too, in case my expansion has made me impervious to philosophy. Maybe Galapagos will be more relevant. And Kurt Vonnegut is easy to digest when all you're living on is sun and poi.


I'll save my thoughts on female regurgitation of knowledge for another day.

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