the books no one else reads


I remember a scene related to me by a poet of the Belgrade surrealist circle, Dusan Matic. In 1941 he took part in the Montenegro guerrilla revolt, and while the to-be fighters were cleaning their guns around him, the poet sat on a nearby terrace, smoked and read Nietzsche. He was annoyed by the many soldiers who came to light their cigarette on his, he told me, he didn’t have the nerves to support the smoking habits of an entire people’s liberation struggle. So he returned to his room in Belgrade during the unpleasant period of occupation, with its many dangers. When I think about it now, I don’t believe that Matic distanced himself from war because of this smoker episode, but rather because the masses of soldiers had interrupted him while reading. It was quite a long time ago that Valéry Larbaud wrote about his observations of reading as a vice practiced with impunity. For myself, I know that this prolonged staring into a book interferes with the production routines in my family, the manufacture of everyday life – the admission of one who engages in the vice Larbaud describes. Personally I require many hours of reading, because I usually read tremendously thick books, and also notably boring ones; I am always convinced that at the core of an abstruse sentence lies the magnificence of a discovery just waiting to be made. And so I remain true to the pre-socratic philosophers, Musil and Lacan.

more from Bora Cosic at Sign and Sight here.