The “Bullshit” Reader
One of the great things about writing for your own blog is that you get to research terms like “bullshit.” My research indicates the first person to use the term “bullshit” was T. S. Eliot. Between 1910 and 1916 he wrote a poem entitled “The Triumph of Bullshit.” The first stanza read:
Ladies, on whom my attentions have waited
If you consider my merits are small
Orotund, tasteless, fantastical,
Monotonous, crotchety, constipated,
Affected, possibly imitated,
For Christ’s sake stick it up your ass.
There’s a scene starring Maya Rudolph in Up All Night where she has to read a book to prepare for an interview with a popular non-fiction author who has written about the economic collapse. As she sits down to read she spends time preparing her tea and getting comfortable in her chair. She adjusts her position several times and scoots around in her chair. I think she even has on a snuggie. She reads the front cover and the back cover. Just about the time she starts to read the first page she’s ready to quit and does. Her character is the epitome of the bullshit reader.
Bullshit equals nonsense. Bullshit is something you can just as well do without. Bullshit includes any wasted movement and energy which leads to excuses.
The “No-Bullshit” Reader
The no-bull shit reader, on the other hand, doesn’t care where he is or what he’s reading. He just wants to read. He can read just as easily on a crowded subway as his favorite easy chair. To read, he needs only a book and a few spare moments. The book, he always has. For that reason, he finds time.
The no-bullshit reader has no problem finding something to read next because he has to read to stay sane. It’s not a matter of finding the perfect time so much as it is finding any time. It’s not a matter of finding the perfect book, because most books will do.
The no-bullshit reader is an efficient reading machine. His back may hurt and his eyes may suffer because he never reads in the proper light, but he gets his reading done.
This issue, however, gets a bit more complicated when you consider reading rituals. Rituals are things you do the same way every time. In that way, they become habit. Sure, they are symbolic in nature, but they trigger certain thought patterns and they can reinforce certain behaviors.
One man’s ritual is another man’s bullshit. Reading rituals are a grey area.
I go through phases. I fall in love with my Kindle for a few months and then transition to real books the next few. I will read mostly in bed one week and in my chair the next. When the sun comes out in the spring, I try to read in the hammock when the mosquitos aren’t swarming.
If I do anything the same way every time, it’s having a notebook and pen to jot down a quote or thought that comes to my while I read. Sometimes, in a bind, I’ll substitute an email note from my smartphone, but I always feel a bit naked without my notebook and pen.
The test is whether the action helps you get your reading done. The ultimate goal is to read. Don’t engage in self-deception. If you aren’t getting your reading done, abandon anything that may be bullshit.