Festering Dialogues

Sunday, April 23, 2006

This seemed more profound when I wrote it over the weekend. But since I did waste ink, I figured the least I could do is post it.

Doolies to me: “it’s strange that you’re sitting next to me. I usually think of you just as a voice in my ear.” (Referring to our nightly telephone conversations.)

While I wait for my food, I figure I’d jot down some words, useless all of them, but you knew that without me saying so. I’m sitting outside of Banana Bread, with a mug of coffee, and enough reading to take me through tomorrow. Of course, I don’t have until then. Doolies is emptying her fish tank for one of her colleagues to haul away. She will arrive in Seattle on Friday and stay throughout May, return to California for a brief few weeks, and then move to Seattle permanently at the end of June. It’s all very scary but also very wonderful.

The more I read nonfiction texts, the more I see the words as a dialogue between the author and me. I imagine the author (even the dead ones) waiting for my underlines and scribbles in the margins. The author responds to my questions and I hear him arguing with my placement of the underline: “no, that’s not the important part—read it again.” The author wants me to interrupt him, to find out what he means by his writing, how it fits in with his earlier statements.

It’s not the books I’m reading that have changed but my reading style. In school, I read to find what the professor wanted me to know in the shortest possible time (I was and still am, more to my chagrin now, a minimalist: minimum energy expenditure for maximum result—the trick is deciding on what “maximum” means for each situation). Now, reading is more of a source of discovery, partly what the author wants to tell me, and partly what I want to learn buried within the author’s thoughts. Maybe Plato named his writings “dialogues” not only because they were conversations between Socrates and his foil, but also because he thought of his writing as conversations between his readers and him.

I’m back from moving Doolies’s fish tank. All that’s left is a deep impression in her rug. Banana Bread is more crowded, and I had to fight for a table. I won, if you’re wondering.