Tuesday, May 03, 2011


I looked forward to receiving today’s book order via shipping to my department, but the pleasure of seeing Harold Bloom’s final book was special, even moving, because the book, he says, is his last (of tens).
Old Harold has a renown in late 20th C academic literary studies comparable to Samuel Johnson in his era. He’s obsessed with Literature (he says at the beginning of his new book). For years, photos on book jackets show his white hair as disheveled as someone just out of bed,
like Einstein or Mark Twain.

His name is engraved on the book jacket cover in larger font than the title of the book, The Anatomy of Influence: Literature as a Way of Life.
His “Praeludium” begins...
When I began writing this book,….My model was to be Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy (1621)….Traces of Burton’s marvelous madness abide in this book…. Burton’s melancholy emanated from his fantastic learning: he wrote to cure his own learnedness….
Bloom’s first chapter is titled “Literary Love.” “When I was very young, freedom beckoned through the poets I first loved: Hart Crane, William Blake, Percy Bysshe Shelly, Wallace Stevens, Walt Whitman, William Butler Yeats, John Milton, and above all William Shakespeare….” |
May 20 update: Bloom’s book is extensively featured in this week’s New York Times Book Review.

Also received today is neuroscientist David J. Linden’s new
The Compass of Pleasure: how our brains make orgasm, exercise, generosity, learning, [and other things] feel so good. I’m interested
in the evolutionary roots of motivation, as it relates to enaction, aspiration, individuation, etc.

I received Enaction: toward a new paradigm for cognitive science
(MIT Press, 2011). Believe it or not, my enactional orientation to human development is many years old; so, I’m glad to see the notion formally explored.

I received J. Hillis Miller’s On Literature, which expresses a global approach to Literature, especially relative to his close friend Jacques Derrida.

Lastly, I received Jacques Derrida’s Parages (which means something like ‘equals in dignity’), a gathering of key essays of his that were previously only available in separate locations. I have a complete collection of Derrida-in-translation.

So there he was in a balmy oasis with only the intimacy of those books weaving into each other….

Actually, their potential intimacy is a projective part of a net of others spanning seasons I thought I’d take into myself months ago, like
missed appointments I manage to not be blamed for—so many ventures
I “can’t wait” to inhabit, but do (not admiring my restraint).