Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Week 2, Day 4

For the mind:
I found some time to read Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac today and found the following entry:
It's the birthday of the literary critic and teacher Harold Bloom..., born in New York City (1930) to Jewish immigrants. His first language was Yiddish, and he started reading poetry in English before he'd ever heard English spoken. He didn't do well in high school but took the statewide Regents exams, got the highest score in the state, and that won him a scholarship to Cornell.

He went on to study literature at Yale in the 1950s at a time when there was a dress code. The students wore jackets and ties. Harold Bloom wore an old Russian leather coat and a pair of fisherman's trousers. He became famous at Yale for his great love of poetry. He memorized everything that he read. He could recite enormous, long poems.

As a professor at Yale and as a critic, Bloom has moved further and further away from the mainstream of literary criticism in this country. Most other critics look at literature as a product of history, politics, and society. Whereas Harold Bloom is one of the last who believes that great literature is a product of pure genius, and who believes that we should read not to learn about history or politics but to learn about the human soul.

In the last few years, he's begun writing books for general readers, believing that scholars have forgotten how to read for pleasure, and many of his recent books have become best-sellers, including Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human and How to Read and Why and Genius: A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds.

Now, I took a mandatory course in college entitled "Literary Criticism" that was the most deadly dull, excruciating exercise in futility that I can remember from my entire four years. To read that Professor Bloom had a completely different view of literary criticism, " learn about the human soul..." sparked enough interest in me to go online to the Pioneer Libary System and request his book, How to Read and Why. More to follow...

For the body:
Today is a rest day as the Solutions for Wellness exercise program slowly builds up over the next twelve weeks. Moderation in all things, I tell myself. And, indeed, my muscles were a bit sore from the strength training.

For the spirit:
After I post this, I'm going to set my meditation timer widget for twenty minutes and sit on my futon between Zeke, the basset, and Zak, the cat, and attempt to follow my breath. Wish me luck!

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