Monday, 31 August 2009


I have been asked by Titus to take the book nearest to me, turn to page 161 and cite the 5th complete sentence. The book nearest to me is Nick Laird’s On Purpose which is a very slim book of poems that only goes up to page 65.

The next nearest is difficult to determine as I have a small shelf just above my desk for reference books, supposedly, and there are about four books there which look to be exactly the same distance from me. Whatever book I choose I will have to bend the rules a little: either cite the 5th sentence of the last page of the Nick Laird, or, the stipulated sentence of not quite the nearest* book.

The other thing I could do is choose the book that is nearest to my reading chair. So not the book that was nearest when I read Titus’s request which was there, between my keyboard and my monitor, because it only just arrived in the post and that is where I unwrapped it, but the one nearest to where I actually sit and read. But that itself poses a problem.

The chair sits between this:

and this:

I am a bit of a dipper when it comes to reading and so am currently flitting between most of these books. Not The English Passengers, it being a novel I am waiting for a quiet, undisturbed stretch of time, to give myself up to it. As I haven’t read this it’s quite tempting to choose it and get to know one sentence, but that could ruin the story. I’ll unwittingly fill in the gaps and then it won’t live up to expectations. I'm sure it's much better than my imaginings could ever be, but that won't stop me anticipating what I know happens, and thus not pay proper attention to what does happen. I've spoilt many a good book in this way, and had umpteen spoilt by reviews too. Best not do that then.

Titus did say she chose me (as one of her five people to pass the baton on to) because she needs more Nietzsche, and, as luck would have it, there is a book about Nietzsche in the running: Alexander Nehamas, Nietzsche: Life as Literature. This is the only secondary text on Nietzsche that I’ve managed to get all the way through, it’s a really good read: well argued and not even remotely pompous. It lives just above my head – literally and metaphorically.

Here is the 5th sentence of page 161:

The narrative that relates [the past] to the present is altered, and even the accidents in our past can be turned into actions, into events for which we are willing to accept responsibility (“Thus I willed it”), and which we are therefore willing to repeat.

Got that?

I should pass this on to five others now, but everyone else seems to have already been nominated, so I'll squish that rule a little too and say: if there is anyone out there who hasn't been tagged and would like to do this (it's an easy post after all), here is your cue.

*I've just reread the rules and they don't say 'nearest' but 'most handy' which could have made for a completely different post: most handy as in most 'to hand', ie nearest, or most handy as in most useful, and if the latter for what aspect of life? Thank goodness I misremembered because I'd have tortured you with this one.


PI said...

'(it's an easy post after all), here is your cue.'
Easy? It sounds like you have had a tortuous journey to hell and back:)

savannah said...

i'll have to save this for later, sugar! since i work on a laptop, i'm tapping this out whilst sitting at the dining room table which for a change is magazine worthy clear and highly polished (with a nary a book or magazine in sight!)! xoxoxo ;~D

Jimmy Bastard said...

Why do I always feel humbled when I guage your intelligence against my own?

Beauty and brains... och!

Titus said...

The richest of journeys as ever - thanks for responding to the request, so easy to be mistaken about what we read, isn't it?

And thank you for settling on the Nietzsche, which was fairly handy. I take it those are words by Nehamas, and not the man himself, because I felt like I understood them.

Viewing what the chair sits between makes me feel a whole lot better.

gleaner said...

Hmm, I might have a go at this one- luckily I had to remove my copy of Beyond Good and Evil from my desk so it is not near...but I walk into my lounge-room and there it is...no I'll go into another room and find that "handy book" to quote.

steven said...

hi eryl, books, ideas skitter scattering and then nicely braided together, memes unpacked and all-in-all a cool post!!! i responded to this meme. same problem. a book that wasn't long enough. but i didn't see all the possibilities you did!!! have a peaceful evening. steven

willow said...

This is fun. I might have to have a go, too!

Eryl Shields said...

Pat ~ the people I live with will tell you I can make a trip to a sweet shop sound like hell.

Savannah ~ how I would love to have even a tiny portion of this house 'magazine worthy' just once! XXXXXX

Jimmy ~ you are such a charmer!

Titus ~ you're not kidding: I like to think of myself spending my days reading great new works but the number of fashion magazines that live on the shelf next to the one I photographed (and therefore just beyond 'nearest') tell a different story. Apparently we'll all be wearing plumy shades on our lips this autumn!

Yes that is Nehamas, he makes sense of Nietzsche in a way no one else seems able.

Gleaner ~ yippee, can't wait to read what you have handy!

Steven ~ seeing all the possibilities is one of my greatest flaws: it's like I have a head full of bureaucratic committees.

Willow ~ a look at the shelves of the manor?! Oh, please do have a go.

Titus said...

Nehamas obviously a handy tip. Thanks!

debra said...

Here you go: "To stop doing what you love is an invitation to burnout."

Wigeon said...

This is great fun! I will get to post my effort when I get the next couple of days over with! You've got an interesting post as ever Eryl. I really like the one from Debra too.

Emerson Marks said...

Is is true that Nietzsche's doctor told him he ought to masturbate more often? That's what I heard, I don't know the reasons behind his doctor's diagnosis.

Eryl Shields said...

Titus ~ you're welcome. I'll lend you the book if you would like a peruse.

Debra ~ I'm going to write that one on my wall!

Wigeon ~ I look forward to reading it.

Emerson ~ where did you get that delicious piece of gossip from? Having read Nietzsche I can imagine why a doctor might advise thus.

Lulu LaBonne said...

English Passengers is a wonderful book , hope you enjoy it. Interesting to see your space.

Daren't do the tag for fear of revealing my lowbrowness

Eryl Shields said...

Lulu ~ I'm really looking forward to sitting down with it. Maybe tonight in fact as I've just cleared a part of the deck.

Joni Mitchell smoked in your car, your brows are about as high as decency allows.

Kim Ayres said...

I saw this over on Hope's site (The Road Less Travelled) and ended up leaving the answer in her comments - so I'll copy and paste it in here:

In 1890 the United States had 800 German newspapers and as late as the outbreak of World War 1 Baltimore alone had four elementary schools teaching in German only.

Bill Bryson: Mother Tongue.

It's a great book if you're even vaguely interested in the use and development of words in the English language. Informative and very funny.

I read it a few months ago, but for some reason someone seems to have dumped it on my computer desk, as such making it the nearest book to hand :)

Eryl Shields said...

Kim ~ great! Yes I am very interested in the development of the English Language, hence the Anglo-Saxon/Old English stuff I'm trying to get to grips with, so I will definitely get myself a copy.

deemikay said...

I cheated and chose 10. :)