Books will always exist. Jefferson’s category of the educated minority, on whose existence the prospects of civilized mankind depend, is no longer enough. To educated we need to add interested. The very impulse of human attention depends on human interest, a quality often involved with humility, with our capacity of seeing beyond ourselves. This awareness sometimes issues from reading.
Interest may just as well be involved with greed, as Nietzsche noted:
“Oh, my greed! There is no selflessness in my soul but only an all-coveting self that would like to appropriate many individuals as so many additional pairs and eyes and hands – a self that would like to bring back the whole past, too, and that will not lose anything that it could possibly possess. Oh, my greed is a flame! Oh, that I might be reborn in a hundred beings!” – Whoever does not know this sigh from firsthand experience does not know the passion of the search for knowledge.
The Lady of the House and I were traveling on business over the weekend, and during some free time in between engagements, we went foraging for victuals and found ourselves strolling through a gigantic mall which contained a two-story Barnes & Noble. I was doing fine until I got to the philosophy section, where I found a few books which have been on my Amazon wish list for a while, plus a few previously-unknown others which caught my interest.
Nothing else has this kind of pull over me. I know full well that I can have all these books for half the price if I just wait and buy wisely online, and I know equally well that I already have, uh — ::checks Goodreads, blushes, clears throat:: — 38 books waiting to be read, but lord-o-lord, it was a mighty struggle against the temptation to damn frugality and steam full speed ahead to the register with probably $200 worth of titles under my arm, just for the thrill of having them all right there in a bag. It honestly caused me psychic pain to have to walk away empty-handed. This is the only setting in which I have to beware the onset of temporary consumer madness like that. Plug my ears or tie me to the mast, Lady, the sirens are singing to me again!