RAMCAT READS #6.5: STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
2016 will be a hard year. We can't avoid, in the words of the novelist Keenan Norris, being "compelled to perform complex narrative gymnastics" or being glued to metaphors which govern actions. What or who controls the compelling machinery?
Is breathing a performance? What motions are not performances in the world we are limited to know ? Is chewing a slice of toast or consulting a friend or squeezing the trigger of a gun a performance? Is a performance itself a performance?
In the time and space and consciousness of being, every motion is not a performance. If in this century, human beings are incapable of distinguishing a performance from its logical opposite, they confront the damnation of being absurdity personified.
The purpose of reading is to beget narratives that liven up daily conversations and assist us in making choices. Narratives bike through our minds and recycle thought. Reading as such does not make us more stupid or wiser. It does not ensure that we shall be good or bad or liberated from deep confusion about our morality and mortality. Reading just increases the probability that we can recognize a nude platitude or cliché when it parades before us and immunize ourselves against the cancer of spinformations. Remember that many people who are not print literate employ other forms of literacy to make their way through life, and we ought to value them as much as we value those who blind us with verbal brilliance.
One purpose of the "Ramcat Reads" series is to provide a finite spectrum of choices and to minimize the notion that any single esteemed writer or any single necessary discipline in the universe donates THE TRUTH to anyone.
In 2016, we may want to retreat a few hours from the paralyzing utterances of our presidential candidates and the thought-murdering entertainment our public intellectuals and enslaved mass media gleefully provide. We may want a recess from obscene but inevitable disinformation. We may want to sample such books as Narrative Sequence in Contemporary Narratology, edited by Raphaël Baroni and Françoise Revaz and Narrating Space/Spatializing Narrative: Where Narrative Theory and Geography Meet by Marie-Laure Ryan, Kenneth Foote, and Maoz Azaryahu. We may want to have spirit-shaking arguments with the Qur'an, the Dao de jing, and the Bible (both the Roman Catholic and Protestant versions thereof). We may want to do battle with scientific treatises, legal documents and economic spreadsheets, and poetry. We may want to spend a cosmic nanosecond or two in renewing our minds.
Jerry W. Ward, Jr. December 21, 2015