The Anticipation of the Text

I sometimes have a moment when I first pick up a book, maybe just after I have heard someone describe it, maybe just after I have read the back cover, maybe just after I have scanned the first few pages of the introduction, and I have the sensation, clear and terrifying, that it will change me. I find myself looking at the thing in my hand, the lump of ink and glue and paper, horrified and elated, transfixed by the possibility that it might overturn me, that it might transform how I think or live. Jean Luc Marion’s God Without Being caused this in me. So too did Ivan Illich’s Rivers North of the Future. In a different way, a way I cannot quite qualify, so did George MacDonald’s Lilith. Of course, these sensations do not always prove true.  In this moment, however, with Michel de Certeau’s The Practise of Everyday Life beside me, I do not think that I will be disappointed. I feel an expectancy, an assurance that it holds for me a transformation. I take it up with a certain joy and a certain terror.

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2 comments
  1. TC said:

    Lovely.

    Before that ever happened, say with the Marion, or whichever came first, did you have that feeling before you had the experience of a book ‘overturning’ life I wonder?

    I think I know a similar feeling, as if I have finally found a book I had always been looking for and this will be it..it is as you say located somehow in the turning it over in ones hands..

    Cheers,
    TC

  2. I am not certain about which came first, but I can recall books that overturned me before I can recall the anticipation that they would. Perhaps the experience of this overturning is necessary to inform the anticipation of it. Perhaps I have merely forgotten how I experienced anticipation as a child.

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