Perhaps everything lies in knowing what words to speak, what actions to perform, and in what order and rhythm; or else someone's gaze, answer, gesture is enough; it is enough for someone to do something for the sheer pleasure of doing it, and for his pleasure to become the pleasure of others: at that moment, all spaces change, all heights, distances; the city is transfigured, becomes crystalline, transparent as a dragonfly.
In the shop window you have promptly identified the cover with the title you were looking for. Following this visual trail, you have forced your way through the shop past the thick barricade of Books You Haven't Read, which were frowning at you from the tables and shelves, trying to cow you. But you know you must never allow yourself to be awed, that among them there extend for acres and acres the Books You Needn't Read, the Books Made For Purposes Other Than Reading, Books Read Even Before You Open Them Since They Belong To The Category Of Books Read Before Being Written. And thus you pass the outer girdle of ramparts, but then you are attacked by the infantry of the Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered. With a rapid maneuver you bypass them and move into the phalanxes of the Books You Mean To Read But There Are Others You Must Read First, the Books Too Expensive Now And You'll Wait Till They're Remaindered, the Books ditto When They Come Out In Paperback, Books You Can Borrow From Somebody, Books That Everybody's Read So It's As If You Had Read Them, Too. Eluding these assaults, you come up beneath the towers of the fortress, where other troops are holding out:the Books You've Been Planning Top Read For Ages,the Books You've Been Hunting For Years Without Success,the Books Dealing With Something You're Working On At The Moment,the Books You Want To Own So They'll Be Handy Just In Case,the Books You Could Put Aside Maybe To Read This Summer,the Books You Need To Go With Other Books On Your Shelves,the Books That Fill You With Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified,Now you have been able to reduce the countless embattled troops to an array that is, to be sure, very large but still calculable in a finite number; but this relative relief is then undermined by the ambush of the Books Read Long Ago Which It's Now Time To Reread and the Books You've Always Pretended To Have Read And Now It's Time To Sit Down And Really Read Them.
Your house, being the place in which you read, can tell us the position books occupy in your life, if they are a defense you set up to keep the outside world at a distance, if they area dream into which you sink as if into a drug, or bridges you cast toward the outside, toward the world that interests you so much that you want to multiply and extend its dimensions through books.
Sections in the bookstore- Books You Haven't Read- Books You Needn't Read- Books Made for Purposes Other Than Reading- Books Read Even Before You Open Them Since They Belong to the Category of Books Read Before Being Written- Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered- Books You Mean to Read But There Are Others You Must Read First- Books Too Expensive Now and You'll Wait 'Til They're Remaindered- Books ditto When They Come Out in Paperback- Books You Can Borrow from Somebody- Books That Everybody's Read So It's As If You Had Read Them, Too- Books You've Been Planning to Read for Ages- Books You've Been Hunting for Years Without Success- Books Dealing with Something You're Working on at the Moment- Books You Want to Own So They'll Be Handy Just in Case- Books You Could Put Aside Maybe to Read This Summer- Books You Need to Go with Other Books on Your Shelves- Books That Fill You with Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified- Books Read Long Ago Which It's Now Time to Re-read- Books You've Always Pretended to Have Read and Now It's Time to Sit Down and Really Read Them
My mother delayed my enrollment in the Fascist scouts, the , as long as possible, firstly because she did not want me to learn how to handle weapons, but also because the meetings that were then held on Sunday mornings (before the Fascist Saturday was instituted) consisted mostly of a Mass in the scouts' chapel. When I had to be enrolled as part of my school duties, she asked that I be excused from the Mass; this was impossible for disciplinary reasons, but my mother saw to it that the chaplain and the commander were aware that I was not a Catholic and that I should not be asked to perform any external acts of devotion in church. In short, I often found myself in situations different from others, looked on as if I were some strange animal. I do not think this harmed me: one gets used to persisting in one's habits, to finding oneself isolated for good reasons, to putting up with the discomfort that this causes, to finding the right way to hold on to positions which are not shared by the majority. But above all I grew up tolerant of others' opinions, particularly in the field of religion, remembering how irksome it was to hear myself mocked because I did not follow the majority's beliefs. And at the same time I have remained totally devoid of that taste for anticlericalism which is so common in those who are educated surrounded by religion. I have insisted on setting down these memories because I see that many non-believing friends let their children have a religious education 'so as not to give them complexes', 'so that they don't feel different from the others.' I believe that this behavior displays a lack of courage which is totally damaging pedagogically. Why should a young child not begin to understand that you can face a small amount of discomfort in order to stay faithful to an idea? And in any case, who said that young people should not have complexes? Complexes arise through a natural attrition with the reality that surrounds us, and when you have complexes you try to overcome them. Life is in fact nothing but this triumphing over one's own complexes, without which the formation of a character and personality does not happen.
It can also be useful to politics, enabling that science to discover how much of it is no more than verbal construction, myth, literary tops. Politics, like literature, must above all know itself and distrust itself. As a final observation, I should like to add that it is impossible today for anyone to feel innocent, if in whatever we do or say we can discover a hidden motive - that of a white man, or a male, or the possessor of a certain income, or a member of a given economic system, or a sufferer from a certain neurosis - this should not induce in us either a universal sense of guilt or an attitude of universal accusation. When we become aware of our disease or of our hidden motives, we have already begun to get the better of them. What matters is the way in which we accept our motives and live through the ensuing crisis. This is the only chance we have of becoming different from the way we are - that is, the only way of starting to invent a new way of being.
Don't be amazed if you see my eyes always wandering. In fact, this is my way of reading, and it is only in this way that reading proves fruitful to me. If a book truly interests me, I cannot follow it for more than a few lines before my mind, having seized on a thought that the text suggests to it, or a feeling, or a question, or an image, goes off on a tangent and springs from thought to thought, from image to image, in an itinerary of reasonings and fantasies that I feel the need to pursue to the end, moving away from the book until I have lost sight of it. The stimulus of reading is indispensable to me, and of meaty reading, even if, of every book, I manage to read no more than a few pages. But those few pages already enclose for me whole universes, which I can never exhaust.
Something must always remain that eludes us ... For power to have an object on which it can be exercised, a space in which to stretch out its arms ... As long as I know there exists in the world someone who does tricks only for the love of the trick, as long as I know there is a woman who loves reading for reading's sake, I can convince myself that the world continues ... And every evening I, too, abandon myself to reading, like that distant unknown woman ....