I have currently undertaken two superficially antithetical parallel reading pursuits: re-savoring Thoreau’s WALDEN and re-assaulting the difficult, luminous, thorny works of William Gass (once my mentor at a writers conference).
I suppose one is the antidote to the other and so I am in a way “safe” from being carried away by the passions of either.
And yet only today did the mutually neutralizing nature of my parallel endeavor strike me, and did I become aware of my almost unconscious caution in taking on both of these wise acres at the same time. What on earth does this mean? How can one adore both of these literary lions and carry their thoughts around, alive and squirming, simultaneously in one’s head?
Then I recalled Keats’ “objective correlative,” (though today Eliot gets the credit for popularizing it), which attempted to label just that sort of thing. He coined the phrase to describe a capacity in someone so far beyond me I will not even mention his name.
But perhaps, after all, these are precisely the benefits of “reading wide and reading deep.”
Of course, haha, this can also make you a mumbling idiot. Steady as she goes. Careful now…. (wink wink).