One general point is that books encountered in youth can burn down into your soul in ways that aren’t possible later. When I was 25, it was possible to get really drunk on a new book, to feel sensations of euphoria and to feel that the world was turned-upside down. A decade and a half later, it’s not the same thing: I can really admire and appreciate and be stunned by new books, but it’s no longer ever like falling crazily in love. I have my own position now, so I’m immediately sizing up strong and weak points of any book I read in what I hope is a fairly balanced fashion, not thinking: “oh man, this is it” like at 25. So in a sense, it’s too late for me to be a convert to anything.
Ortega y Gasset says something like this: “To really penetrate Kant’s system one needs the good will of those early years when good will is all one has.”
It can be frustrating to be young and not yet in a position to make much of a contribution to the debate. But at least you can often read what you want whenever you want (no longer possible for me), and you can bring a lot of sincerity and enthusiasm to new authors in a way not yet tempered by the caution of approaching middle age. There’s something sparkling about that period.
It reminds me of another nice thought from a novel by Yukio Mishima, Runaway Horses. He’s talking about a character in his late 30’s, and makes the point that this character, like others of that age, still (wrongly) feels close in time to his late 20’s, because “the events of the past ten years had made almost no strong impression on him.” I’m getting the phrasing wrong; Mishima did it better. But the point is generally true– you start cooling down a bit about everything, including authors.
re.press - Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics
25 Jun 2009 ... 'Graham Harman does for Bruno Latour what Deleuze did for Foucault.