In 2014 I read 44 books, mostly on the subway. Some were needed for historical research, such as a part of Churchill’s memoirs. Many others were indispensable for philosophy, such as Anna Karenina and Baudelaire’s collected essays. And whenever I saw a description of Vixey in various poetry, I made a note of this to possibly use in a chapter epigraph. I found that most often in Byron and Baudelaire.
Out of all the things I read in the year, I was most blown away by Bunin’s short story called Nataly. Actually, the parts about Nataly are where it deteriorates. Rather the first three chapters about Sonia are the good part. It takes place in my all-time favorite setting – a Russian estate or dacha in summer – the same setting of Nabokov’s Ada and the setting that I will use for my next book.
It was my first time reading Ivan Bunin – I learned much from his style and also couldn’t resist mentioning his work via a statement from one of my characters, Pavel Nikitich.
Other highlights from 2014 were La Dame aux camélias (Dumas fils) and the memoirs of Anatoli Granovsky, an NKVD officer who defected to the West. Additionally, there were things I read for the second time and gained much more insights than when I originally read them: Mme Bovary, King Lear, and Mann’s stories.
Certainly the more one reads, learns, and thinks, the more one increases consciousness and perception. Since the world is naturally a dark and evil place, this means that by learning more about it one must get to the logical end of metaphysics – what has been expressed by Baudelaire, Leopardi, and Schopenhauer – complete pessimism.
In the time that I became a writer, I have felt myself become more æsthetically sensitive. This would be good if one lived in the Englischer Garten. But since the world clearly contains more negative than positive, it means that my eyes are pained more often than they are joyed by what I see in New York.
However, this is also the path to improvement and creation. That the world is bad is a fact. But ignorance and the numbing of senses, even if pleasant, is fatal in the global sense – it means conformity, submission to entropy, and stagnation. Dissatisfaction is necessary for there to be any kind of progress.