What I want from a book is a map of reality and its boundaries. That is all. If the nature and form of the boundaries suggest the existence of a frontier for me to explore, then that is all the better. Nothing excites me more than the notion that there is something out there wild — as yet unexplored. The list of books that have intrigued me in the past have done so because they have suggested something about the nature of conventional reality and the means to bust out of it.
5. James Joyce
9. Kleinian school
14. Bruce Lee
15. Emma Goldman
16. Wilfred Bion
18. de Sade
19 Percy Shelly
20 Emily Brontë
What doesn’t interest me so much is reality as it actually is lived. I’m more more intrigued by reality as it might be lived .
I woke up this morning with a eureka moment, having deduced that I am an emotional skeptic.
It’s not a choice to be an emotional skeptic — it’s more a feature of upbringing and temperament. I can tolerate emotions that suffuse gradually into my consciousness, but once they start to come at me in quick succession, I either lose interest (feeling that the needlework involved is too fine for my Cylops vision to observe) or else I feel like you do when somebody is throwing combination punches at you in the ring, and you’re against the ropes.
As an emotional skeptic, I see language as a precarious scaffolding on which I am compelled to do my balancing acts. Because of the emotional inflections we subconsciously attribute to words, a particular word will not mean the same thing to you as it does to me. That is why I value a philosopher like Quine, who makes the complexity of linguistic issues clearer.
An emotional skeptic seeks accuracy of interpretation above all. An emotion, a feeling, is a sign of something greater than it. What is it trying to get at? (If one believes that the answer is immediately apparent, then one is assuredly not a skeptic concerning emotional matters.) My memoir took me eleven years to write because of this emotional skepticism. Not just any answer would have done — I had to have the right one. I had to discern and interpret reality accurately. Failing to have done so would have jeopardized my personal growth and knowledge of the world around us in its true and essential form. Reality can’t just mean anything at all, and not just any answer will do.
Although I process emotional material remarkably slowly, I enjoy undifferentiated emotional experience, where I am not required to interpret accurately. Wherever emotion may be permitted to be the mere epiphenomenon to the actual event taking place, and its meaning, I enjoy emotion immensely. In all honesty, I have never felt more in my cultural element than when I was with a group of skydivers.
I feel very at ease with research and can work hard and relentlessly at it, since it does not require me to encounter people. It is truly my vocational element. If I had to spend much of my time dealing with those of immature minds, working over things at the level of emotional issues, I would not have even a quarter of my energy.