(I'm Murphy by the way, but I've lost my account.) How do you do? Seems like this place went bad sometime last winter. I've been out traveling(trying out my French, worsening my English =/) so I couldn't commit to discussions, but now that I finally have the time I think it would be a shame not to try to get back some of the old atmosphere(not that I ever was a big forumite). I'll pick up the ball with what follows: Today I was looking through Gravity's Rainbow, that son of a bitch of a book it took me weeks to get through when I first read it years ago, back in high school(which happens to be not too long ago, actually). Now, after having read it another time I have the shattered story in place, and the possibility of an interpretation is opened up for me. At the same time almost every page turn into worthless waste that I'll never go back to; their use as a ground for understanding is exhausted and the interest is thus lost. It also becomes embarrassingly clear how awkward much of it is; the critics of the book are in a way spot on - it reads like a bad parody caught in self-indulgence, without a clue of how it will age. But still, I brought it down from my shelf knowing this. Why? Because there are things left worth savoring, namely the moments, the passages, the phrases. They are left untouched by the dullness reached by a book figured out. I'll give you two examples, first: 'To Cuxhaven, the summer in deceleration, floating on to Cuxhaven. The meadows hum. Rain clatters in crescent swoops through the reeds. Sheep, and rarely a few dark northern deer, will come down to browse for seaweed at the shore which is never quite sea nor quite sand, but held in misty ambivalence by the sun....' Nothing turgid, too elegiac or screamingly ostentatious (as Pynchon sometimes is), just some beautiful, pensive, restrained writing, with the masterstroke left towards the end, where the careful alliteration set off by seaweed concludes in the brilliant trio sea, sand, sun. If you read it out loud you will notice how each word (sea, sand, sun)takes you further back in the mouth: de, da, dun - the last one reaching for closure. The wondrous parallelism is strengthened by the more fixed expressions: 'never quite', 'nor quite', which are released by the 'but', allowing for a longer phrase which renders the rhythm more interesting. There's a lot more to be said about this passage, but I'll stop there in order not to bore. Second example, a more famous sentence: 'What are the stars but points in the body of God where we insert the healing needles of our terror and longing?' This one actually grows out of a horrible passage (though, if you bother to look, the preceding sentence is of value) and can be read by itself as an aphorism worthy of Nietzsche. The trope is ravishingly good and original, nicely finished off by the parallel double (I'm inventing here) ter-ror, long-ing; wisely ending with the nasal-sound. If switched, the final emphasis on terror would have rendered it quite silly sounding - to let the light fall on longing fits the world of Pynchon perfectly. I find that when I read, I do it mainly for two things: erudition and wonder (and awe). Erudition is but a means to an end, and most of the time it's not that fun acquiring it. Wonder is of the sort that I've tried, a bit cursory, to show above. It's a glimpse of the magic of the world and the word that I never can stop admiring. That's not to say that I don't enjoy symbolism, as long as it's not used in argument about, say, the essence of a book. Moreover, there exists certain works of art where it gets harder to pick out passages without losing this persisting magic, where each and every part is brought to fullness in the continuity of the artwork, but I find that they are much harder to talk about on a forum since paraphrasing threatens to kill what they are. This rant is obviously all too categorical (I wonder if it even makes sense), written as a reminder of why I read, something that easily gets lost in the maze of endless interpretive exercises of literature studies. Now I pass on the ball to you: how and why do you read? Or if you'd just like to share some lovely passages, that is very much welcome too.