Reading was my first addiction, books my first great weakness. Even these past few years, when I seemingly abandoned my first love, I found an irresistible satisfaction in perusing bookstore shelves, inhaling the scent of new books, and running my fingers over their jagged edges, seduced by the tantalizing array of stories hidden behind tidy covers.
I confess, my abandonment of books was as much a consequence of mental laziness, as it was a lack of time. I spent five and one-half years of college education—undergraduate and master’s—wherein much of my time was devoted to creative, design pursuits, rather than more bookish studies. I built models; I did not read books. The notable exception was the first semester of the master’s degree, specifically the mandatory “Theories of Architecture,” with required readings ranging from Le Corbusier to Derrida. Given a near-constant state of sleep deprivation, these readings didn’t necessarily “take,” and ultimately only resulted in an aversion to any reading which required effort.
I found other activities, other interests. I neglected my books. But somehow they started creeping back, inserting themselves on my consciousness. I’m not sure I can precisely pinpoint my ultimate downfall, that event which precipitated my relapse to the potent narcotic which is literature. I don’t think there is any one moment, any one book. There is however, a stack of books aside my bed, posing a nightly hazard to both my toes and my sleep. There is a reading list of rapidly increasing proportions. There are shelves full to bursting.
All these books, these lists, this recurrent habit, pose a deep threat to my other great addiction: music. I am perhaps even less a connoisseur of music than I am books, but am no less a collector.
I was late to music—although I took piano lessons until I graduated high school, my exposure to other forms was limited. The soundtrack of my childhood—classical, “oldies”—was not the music of the day. I was only vaguely familiar with the contemporary top 40.
We embark on our college educations with many expectations in mind—meeting new people, seeing new places, learning much—ultimately earning a degree which will enable us, it is hoped, to proceed on the career path we desire. I did not, in short, anticipate the musical introductions.
It was not, as might be expected, “Understanding Music” which was to blame—I was quite familiar with most of the classical works already, the more contemporary excepted—but rather the studio class. As a group, we spent countless hours in studio, and, lacking either laptop or any personal music player that first semester, I was subjected to whatever might be blaring from my classmates’ radios. In sharp contrast to my previous experiences, this was primarily rock music. At first repulsed, later intrigued, finally attracted, I did not know then, but I was doomed—to the unceasing quest for more, for different, for that which is meaningful to the moment, for the sublime.
Writing here, I do not delude myself that anything I might have to say on my reading or listening might be any different than that which has been said before. Instead, I simply seek to create a record for myself of where my wanderings have been and where they might take me.