11 May, 2012

Guilty, m'lud


Guilt is currently gnawing at me. Or is it eating at me? Or taking digs? Or trying to drive me? Or...well, whatever the particular idiom one is correct to use with guilt, it's pretty clear that it acts unpleasantly, and that's what it's doing at the moment. I suppose the logical question is, when a statement such as this is made, what do i feel guilty about? Not what might be considered the obvious contenders.

Work? Plenty to be guilty about there, to be sure. The company i work for continues to load more and more onto us, gives us no more reward for doing the extra, provides no more hours in the week to do it in, nor any extra staff to help with it. Therefore i am, without a doubt, constantly behind, with an ever-growing list of tasks. Sure, i should feel guilty; but i don't ~ why should i when i cannot affect the circumstances, other than by taking on a different job altogether?

Perhaps, then, a sensible thing to feel guilt over is the collapse and demise of my marriage. Again, though, i don't. Similar situation to that of the previous potential cause: Though some of mine actions have been a part of the cause of the collapse (only part; it takes two to tango), it was neither my choice nor decision and, although i regret it, i cannot affect the outcome, so why be guilty?

Other potential proximate causes? I have to drive seventeen miles to work each day; that causes pollution, adds more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than i would choose, and seems a bit of a waste of time. I don't eat as healthily as i “should” ~ forget five-a-day ~ enjoy junk food too much, and don't track the units of alcohol i consume, though the government continually admonishes me to do so. I drink more coffee than i probably should. Only once or twice a week do i go for a walk, even though i enjoy it when i do.

It is not any of these, though. No, what is currently causing me guilt is that there are two books i have started reading and i'm struggling to finish them. Books, of all things innocuous and friendly, giving me grief. But there are reasons.

One of them is quite old (not my copy, just the contents), about a hundred and ninety or so years old, and written in a style i'm not finding especially enjoyable. Plenty of older books i love, Pride and Prejudice, Tristram Shandy, and The Rape of the Lock, to name but three; this one, however, is fighting me all the way, instead of welcoming me, drawing me in, seducing me, pleasuring me. And the fear that, maybe, the fault lies in me and not the book causes me guilt.

The other is a book i have been freely given, with only the stipulation that i read and review it ~ i don't even have to like it! ~ on the Library Thing website. It must be the sixteenth or seventeenth book, i should think, that i have received this way, and i am fighting hard to finish it. There was one other of the Early Reviewer books that i received which i was simply unable to finish; that one was so bad that in the review i did write i compared it unfavourably with tripe, and i really don't want to do that again, so i struggle on, and on, and on (of course, it's a book on the longer side; it would be!).

To continue, probably much farther than necessary, the metaphor i began in writing of the first of these two books, this one, while it should be buying me drinks, sweet-talking me, making me laugh and want to spend time with it, while these lovely activities should be taking place, in fact it is boring me, talking of matters it clearly doesn't know, embarrassing me with its overbearing cleverness, and breathing on me with rather heavy halitosis. Unfortunately, and i say this with genuine regret because, without all the poor behaviour this could have been a fun relationship, instead of being seduced i am repelled.

The problem, where the guilt arises further, and this has been an issue for me with others of these Early Reviewer books, is that although there is no requirement at all to give a positive review, i feel an obligation to be polite about what is, essentially, a gift of something i value highly: Books are not, to me, consumable items; they are artefacts to be treasured, potentially the containers of wisdom, skill, beauty, new experiences. I want to appreciate them, it's a part of my personality, and being able to read almost anything is a part i am proud of. I'm not sure, though, that when the time comes for the review to be written and posted, i shall be able to be nice and polite about it; i may end up going for honesty and brutality ~ which will doubtless cause more guilt!

1 comment:

Stephanie Rae Pazicni said...

Verbal demerits for honesty? Even when the review makes the writer want to crawl under their bed and rock back and forth, they still want the truth. I do anyway. So I hope you can toss that guilt into the sea. Then you can just spend your guilt on normal things like killing spiders or stepping on ants when you go on your walk twice a week.