Currently Reading: Emerson: The Mind On Fire By Robert D. Richardson, Jr.


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As I have said earlier, I have read this book three times previously but I rand across a paragraph I wanted to share with you from page 173:

“Along with Emerson’s freedom to take whatever struck him went the important obligation to ignore what did not. Emerson read widely and advised others to do so, but he was insistent about the dangers of being overwhelmed and overinfluenced  by one’s reading. ‘Do not attempt to be a great reader,’ he told a young Williams College student named Charles Woodbury. ‘ Read for facts and not by the bookful.’ He thought one should ‘learn to divine books, to feel those that you want without wasting much time on them.’ It is only worthwhile concentrating on what is excellent and for that ‘often a chapter is enough.’ He encourages browsing and skipping. ‘The glance reveals what the gaze obscures. Somewhere the author has hidden the message. Find it, and skip the paragraphs that do not talk to you.’

I believe this to be an excellent definition of syntopical reading as we have discussed in previous posts.


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