Of late, I’ve been worrying that I’m losing it. Specifically, my ability to concentrate and … to read. (To read, you must concentrate on what you’re reading.)
I read so much all day on screens large and small that I find myself struggling to read words on paper when they are bound into packets of a certain thickness, otherwise known as books. Perhaps that is why I struggle to appreciate tomes that others are still capable of savoring.
You will appreciate that this is an odd confession from an aspiring author. Soon, in my fantasies, I will persuade all of you to read my book, once it is published. If you’re still able, that is.
So I’ve been starting and dropping books. It’s so easy nowadays — one click on Amazon, a few seconds on the Kindle. But they can’t hold my attention anymore.
And then, I returned to an old book: Virgil’s Aeneid.
Perhaps Cheri reminded me to pick it up again when she did. Perhaps I was just looking for an excuse.
And oh, what a surprise. The pages turn themselves. The pace is fast but light, the action non-stop, the tension immediate, the storytelling riveting. My concentration is complete, my effort nil.
I am reading Robert Fitzgerald’s translation, which preserves the rhythm of Virgil’s Latin. I mentioned the other day how Virgil paid attention to his words, like “a she-bear licking his cubs.” Well, this is the result. Not a word is amiss or extraneous. The poem has speed.
Perhaps I need to get my head examined. Perhaps I am an anachronism, two millennia out of date. Or perhaps there is a reason why the Aeneid is a classic. It is so good. It made me remember how to read. If you’re like me, wondering whether “Google has made you dumb” (Nick Carr), pick up Virgil.