Friday, January 05, 2007

Why the Book Stack Challenge is going s..l..o..w

I signed up nonchalantly for the Book Stack Reading Challenge, but I haven't finished even one of the books on the list. Parts of several of them, but none of them done. On the other hand, since the challenge started I've finished a Paddington book, Elin's Amerika (about Swedish pioneers), The Thirteen Clocks and The Wonderful O with Ponytails; and read quite a few picture books with Crayons. We've also started Grey Owl's children's book Sajo and the Beaver People.

Not the same thing?

Well, the other problem is that a couple of the books I picked are tough ones. Rewarding, but tough. I'm still on page 20 of Northrop Frye's The Great Code. It's something like his Educated Imagination--some of the same ideas--but not written for a radio audience. Like reading C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity and then digging into one of his more challenging books. They're both worthwhile, but different experiences.

The Great Code is one of those books that builds up its own vocabulary as it goes, so you have to take it a bit at a time and keep going back to the definitions of things--like reading a Russian novel where people keep coming in who were introduced a hundred pages back.

Here's one of the ideas that you kind of have to stop and chew on in the first chapter. Is "God" a noun or a verb?
"In Exodus 3:14, though God also gives himself a name, he defines himself (according to the AV) as 'I am that I am,' which scholars say is more accurately rendered 'I will be what I will be.' That is, we might come closer to what is meant in the Bible by the word 'God' if we understood it as a verb, and not a verb of simple asserted existence but a verb implying a process accomplishing itself. This would involve trying to think our way back to a conception of language in which words were words of power, conveying primarily the sense of forces and energies rather than analogues of physical bodies. To some extent this would be a reversion to the metaphorical language of primitive communities....But it would also be oddly contemporary with post-Einsteinian physics, where atoms and electrons are no longer thought of as things but rather as traces of processes. [In contemporary culture and language] God may have lost his function as the subject or object of a predicate, but may not be so much dead as entombed in a dead language."--Frye, p. 18
So I don't know if I'll get through this challenge. Maybe I can get through just this book, "call it Sam and be done with it," as the Hillbilly Housewife says.

1 comment:

Gail said...

Oh, joy, joy, and happiness!! I am not the only one lingering over my literature! How comforting. I need to post about how I am progressing in the Challenge. Maybe I will go do that now. Thanks for sharing where you're at with it. :)