On the Blessed Inevitability of "Misreading"

Reader, attend to Sally Rooney:

Each reader, of course, encounters their own Ulysses: the one they create for themselves in the act of reading. Every reading of the novel yields a new text, one that has been pulled this way and that by the attention and inattention, the knowledge and ignorance, the likes and dislikes of the particular reader. And that reader is inevitably an entire person: a person with their own distinctive body, their own feelings, their own vocabulary, their own personal library of sensory memories and associations. These qualities are not unfortunate failures of objectivity: they are what make us capable of reading in the first place. Ulysses demands a reader who can respond as a human being, emotionally, intellectually, physically, erotically, even spiritually. And these demands are made on readers who are by necessity in no two cases the same. In our own particular bodies, reading with our eyes and our hands, with our own thoughts and feelings, we remake and reinterpret every text we encounter. Every interpretation has its weaknesses, its points of interest, its missing pieces. From this small limited partial perspective, embracing its smallness and limitations, I feel I need not worry so much about “misreading” Joyce. Every reading of Ulysses is a misreading, a faulty but revealing translation, a way of drawing the novel into new and perhaps unintended relationships. All that matters to me is finding a way to read the book that is interesting: that opens out instead of closing down.

This is, of course, why it can be such an illuminating experience to re-read a text you loved (or hated) at an earlier period in your life after some years have passed; it will inevitably offer up different things to the person you are than it did to the person you were. Each “misreading” helps us see a little more of the text and a little more of ourselves through the text.

This photo of Nick Cave awkwardly hugging Warren Ellis while holding a copy of Christian Wiman’s My Bright Abyss is so many of my favorite things in one place.

Dusk keeps coming earlier in St. Andrews. 26 days to the winter solstice.

It’s just not really Thanksgiving without homemade garmonbozia.

Currently reading: How To Think by Alan Jacobs 📚

Deeply insightful, & a pleasure to read. @ayjay, your choice of illustrative quotes from More and Luther first shocked, then sent both my wife and I into hysterics—all while perfectly demonstrating your point. Thank you!

I realize that I am pretty predictable, but…

I am absolutely loving this listening experience.

Not always serious, though. Sometimes friendly.

Photo credit: Felipe Krause Dornelles


Photo credit: Felipe Krause Dornelles

E&J in B&W, West Sands, St Andrews, Scotland

This view never really gets old.

A Writer’s Confession: Robert Burton

“And for those other faults of barbarism, Doric dialect, extemporanean style, tautologies, apish imitation, a rhapsody of rags gathered together from several dunghills, excrements of authors, toys and fopperies confusedly tumbled out, without art, invention, judgement, wit, learning, harsh, raw, rude, fantastical, absurd, insolent, indiscreet, ill-composed, indigested, vain, scurrile, idle, dull and dry; I confess all (’tis partly affected), thou canst not think worse of me than I do of myself.”

  • Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy

🍰 Caramel Apple Upside-Down Cake, courtesy of Anna Rebecca. Exquisite.

Mimi Parker

Thank you for the music, Mimi Parker.

“Nothing we do is better than the work of handmind. When mind uses itself without the hands it runs the circle and may go too fast; even speech using the voice only may go too fast. The hand that shapes the mind into clay or written word slows thought to the gait of things and lets it be subject to accident and time.” — Ursula K. Le Guin, Always Coming Home

I love being part of a family of readers and writers. Anna is reading to us tonight from her latest story, “The Eclipse”.


Release Day Quick Takes: The 1975 - Being Funny in a Foreign Language

🎵Now Listening: Being Funny in a Foreign Language

First Impression: The 1975 ditch their maximalist tendencies and makes their first album that feels tossed off—in a really good way. No overthinking. Just a band playing to their strengths.

It may not be their best record (time will tell), but as of today it is their most consistent by a mile.

Also, Jack Antonoff is quietly making the case for himself as one of the all-time great pop record producers.

I am increasingly convinced that 7 or 8 tracks is the sweet spot for album length. What are your favourite albums with no more than 8 tracks?

🎵Now Listening: Cool it Down - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

So much goodness in this book. #faithhopeandcarnage

“Life is too damn short, in my opinion, not to be awed.” — Nick Cave

I can’t lie to you guys. I’m a little bit excited about this one… I mean, scholarly objectivity remains fully intact. But, still… 🤩🔥🤩🔥🤩

Both at Westminster and at St. George’s in Windsor, the Piper’s Lament was a beautiful and meaningful moment.

Deeply moved by all the funeral proceedings for E II R today. Grateful to be here in the UK to witness this.