Today I sat, or rather lay, on the sofa and actually read a book. Not only that but I also enjoyed reading it. I was there for well over an hour and the only thing that stopped me actually finishing said book was that my eyes started to lose focus and, like that tub of Ben & Jerry's that you feel you just HAVE to keep digging into long past the point where you are enjoying it.
This is hardly newsworthy and in fact looks a bit naff, even as I type it however after reading the superb "Wasting More Police Time: Further Adventures in La La Land" by PC David Copperfield (Monday Books) I had an enhanced perspective of the UK police.
Now me and the
police are old enemies. I was a cop for just over 3 years and the experience
was dire. However, reading the thoughts and reflections of other cops who are
still serving (or were when the book came out) it means I now have knowledge to
back up my opinions.
Then I got to thinking about how I don't really read a lot of books. I mean, there's books that have sat on my shelf unread for 6 years or more. Yesterday at Demoncon XI in
I was exhibiting again and I was sat next to an author named Miles Allen. I
last saw Miles at Demoncon III in 2012 and sat next to him at that one too. We
exchanged books at the end as a farewell gift and I got The Walkers of Legend
in return for a copy of my police memoir Stab Proof Scarecrows. Found out about
lunchtime yesterday that he hasn't read mine and I still haven't read his.
I have loads of books that I haven't finished or even started and I didn't know why but then I got thinking about other areas of my life and my habit of Not Reading Books took on a certain Other perspective.
I have issues, as any regular reader of this blog will know (or to be fair, anyone who's read more than four posts). I find writing purges those issues to a great extent and helps me calm and tame a lot of my demons as they writhe around in the sewers beneath the basement of my memory palace.
So I deal with then and drift along in life with my issues like a scab that I need to let heal but sometimes I just pick at.
But then the real reason behind Not Reading Books rose up. It explains why I will get up with the best intentions of writing a blog, continuing my 3rd kids book and maybe reading half a novel by George RR Martin or Bernard Cornwell. It makes it clear why I can spend hours wasting time on Facebook, punctuated by brief jaunts to YouTube. And it offers a succinct reason for why I can waste SOOO much time playing Candy Crush Saga, Candy Crush Soda Saga, Candy Crush Jelly Saga, and for a bit of variety...the Alphabetty Saga.
Someone said that the more you find out the less you know but to add to that I would have to say that the more I find out the less I wish I had.
A very long time ago I made a decision in my child mind that life was unfair and most people wouldn't be able to "get" what I said. Life was and is a big facade covering some very sinister and depressing realities. I never wanted to face that I would simply leave school, get a job, maybe get married and then one day keel over and die. I didn't want the reality of a 25 or 27 year mortgage and I certainly didn't want the reality of knowing just how badly politicians lie and cheat to hold power.
So...ignorance is bliss. By Not Reading Books, I was effectively shutting myself off from the harsh realities of life. I could remain ignorant and while I would be frustrated and lonely it meant my isolated world of self induced Not Knowing was bearable because I had created it.
Recently I've been looking at a lot of information about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. There are a lot of daft conspiracy theories floating about but also a lot of obfuscation and deliberate misinformation. I've seen that there are 8 to 13 powerful families in the world who control all of the global economy. I've seen how companies created in
were selling oil and vehicles to both sides in World War II (this practice was
happening as far back as the Napoleonic war). And this information both
frightens and depresses me.
I have chosen to Not Read Books for a long time because the reality of what life is like under the surface is nothing like an advertiser would have you believe. I care very deeply about many things but it seems so much easier to play The Spin Doctors' song "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" on You Tube for the 10th time rather than the video called "The Banned George W Bush Interview".
President is no more than a figurehead for far more powerful people is a
sobering and unpleasant revelation. The fact that a cuntish mong like the
second George Bush could ever even be a president shows just how much the true
power is in the hands of unseen people (a plot facet that was even used for
effect in the last James Bond movie for Chrissakes!)
About 6 years ago I found out that a woman who worked at another branch of the same language school that I worked in, had phoned my boss and said unpleasant things about me. I told my boss that I wanted to know EVERYTHING "that fucking fat bitch" had said but once I got home I calmed down, phoned my boss and said that I had changed my mind. I added that if she told me what "the fat cunt" had said then I would feel obliged to act upon it. By not knowing I wouldn't need to.
This was a sensible and possibly even vaguely noble decision but conversely I made a similar decision with regard to cutting off contact with a woman I was in love with. I thought I had upset her and I stopped talking to her because it was (at the time) infinitely preferable to live and never know how she felt about me...than to get back in touch and find out that she hated me or worse, had forgotten me. When I finally grew a pair and got back in touch (9 years later) it turned out that she wasn't angry and was in fact pleased to hear from me.
Ignorance can be bliss...but it can also be unbearably saddening if you know that on the other side of that ignorance is knowledge and maybe even enlightenment. Cowardice in the face of information means never having to find out things you don't want to face.
So...I have moved through my life Not Reading Books for this reason. I am afraid of finding out that life really is incomprehensible, scary and weird.
Recently I stopped finding porn entertaining. By that I mean the bog standard crap that is available on sites like YouPorn or XXX Videos. A niche market called "Female Friendly Porn" I can handle as there is some semblance of acting ability, tenderness and even a lot of kissing however stuff I got off on for the last 30+ years no longer gives me an erection like it used to. I also no longer get so aroused by stories (the one I read in Penthouse letters back in about 1988 of two women daring a third to "rub up" a guy on a bus...that has seen me through some dark nights, I can remember it word for word even now) and my attitude isn't the adolescent fuck fest it was up until about summer of last year. I initially put this down to male menopause but have come to the conclusion that it's simply a realignment of priorities. I still like sex but lost the juvenile mindset once I accepted the act for what it is and not what I was told it was by porn producers and wank mag editors.
Knowledge can be frightening. People will 90% of the time try to fob you off and lie about reality. How many times has someone hurt you and then either blamed you for the fact they did it, blamed their "unhappiness" or tried to misrepresent the situation. A woman in a relationship with a violent boyfriend will be Not Reading Books on that subject, because she wants to believe that things are the way she wants to believe they are. A boy who is bullied by his peer group at school but continues to stay with them, will deny the reality of what's going on in order to hang out with the "cool kids".
Reality can be terrifying. Knowledge leads to understanding of reality. Sometimes it's better to just deny all of it.
For me it no longer is.