Many A Book

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” 
~Franz Kafka

How often do you discover yourself by reading the words of someone else? It is not just about agreeing with what you read, but resonating with the ideas and language, realizing that what is on the page is the same as what is inside of you. Something you didn’t know before – a part of you that had been left unexplored. As you read the words you unearth hidden facets of the self that have been forgotten, ignored, or intentionally buried. 

When I read this quote I envision a Gothic castle, complete with winding tunnels, secret passages, and abandoned chambers and corridors. The idea of a literary work penetrating the various crevices of the castle brings with it a sense of chilling exploration. I cannot explain why, but for whatever reason, this quote got me very excited – so much so that I ran straight home to blog about it (not that I had other plans, but still, you get the idea).

When you find a part of yourself that has been concealed for various reason, well, you have to ask. What does this mean? Yes, I understand, but what does this mean? In terms of the self, the other, and my current station in life. Because it changes. 

The same work, read at different points in life, will open new chambers, unravel different perspectives of self, and allows you an analysis of the now. Why does this passage, chapter, novel, effect you the way it does now? What does the language say about how you are feeling at the moment? And always “why?”

If you don’t believe this could happen, reread a book you enjoyed and read almost a decade ago. I am not arguing that the entire work will change for you and have a new meaning. While that might happen, my point is that there are finer nuances of the novel which will have changed – a character reinterpreted, one chapter which now holds a completely different type of importance, or even just a simple scene that stands out like never before. 

It is the most exciting when a work that hardly touched you is all of a sudden a life divulging artifact. The work hasn’t changed. You have. You had to live through something to even acknowledge something else was there, or better yet, to understand its existence. It was always within you, but you could not come to terms with it, or even explore it, because you could not see it. 

Your tastes and interests change for this very reason. You are constantly seeking works (literary or otherwise) that validate your sense of self, and sometimes you find works that hold a mirror up and show you who you really are. And you may have known, but you didn’t want to read it because now you have to deal with it. 

There are so many different feelings to be experienced when reading…. each one proceeding down a different corridor of your mind, and each page opens another door. 

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