The Greats and being a Renaissance Man

I'm listening to Exile on Main Street and reading rock reviews... I'm not sure if this is a good combination. But anyway, I came across C.S. Lewis' name in the review of Radiohead's "Kid A",
and I got all flustered. Yet another author that I really haven't read. I've read The Chronicles of Narnia and loved them and even reread them a few years ago and enjoyed them even more (they're making movies to them). But besides that, I haven't read any Lewis despite him being British and Catholic (thus making him a favorite in my mind... not sure why I love Catholic Brits, but nonetheless)... I did see Shadowlands and it was pretty good and I won't go into it because I want to get back to my point... So I haven't really read Lewis and then I started thing about all the things I haven't read, all Russian authors, Being and Nothingness, most of Kierkegaard stuff, I've started Ulysses but that's next to impossible to read on one's own, Lolita, Catch-22 (though I know the plot), I've started Faulkner and Sound and the Furry but it's a hard fucking book to really read, Steinbeck, Theodore Dreiser, Saul Bellow (Saul Bellow! I've never read Saul Bellow!), most Hemingway (but people say he's shit), Kafka! I haven't read Kafka either!... I haven't read Kafka... how can I even write if I've never read Kafka? I own The Metamorphois, but have yet to read it. I wonder sometimes.

And even though I consider myself well read, there's more that I haven't even come close to reading that what I've read. It's annoying, it's frustrating. It it makes me feel like I'm wasting my life watching the White Sox and playing video games. But then I think, I like the White Sox and I really don't spend that much time playing video games, it's just that I haven't found a good book in a few weeks, but it will come and I'll read again... and I guess that comforts me.

But it's frustrating to live in a world like we do. One where there is so much to do, so much to see, so much to read, so much to listen to... from pop culture, to sports, to the news, to books and novels, to science... to be a Renaissance Man in the modern world may be impossible. And that might be the most uncomfortable thought I've had in a while.

I once read that Thomas Jefferson was able to talk about anything and everything in some detail. He was a true Renaissance Man, he could talk to you about farming, science of the day, religion, literature, history, politics, philosophy, political theory, and on and on... and I was amazed and awed. I was 15 and I decided that I wanted to be like Jefferson, that I too wanted to be as accomplished of a person or intellectual. And in the eight years since, all I've discovered is what Jefferson's contemporary John Adams once wrote to his wife (Socrates said something similar to this also)... that the more he learns the more he realizes there is so much more that he doesn't know. It's frustrating to say the least.

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