"In order that the mind may not be taxed, moreover, by the manifold and confused reading of so many such things, and in order to prevent the escape of something valuable that we have read, heard, or discovered through the process of thinking itself, it will be found very useful to entrust to notebooks ... those things which seem noteworthy and striking."

[Commonplace books: Thomas Farnaby, 17th-century]

I'm not sure how interested we should be in the idea of interest. It's such a secular category of mental activity--it implies such an emptying out of content. One can't imagine Dante or Pascal being 'interested' in something. Pascal's 'interest' in roulette was a terrifying confrontation with the omnipresent immanence of his creator, a face-to-face interview with God. You would no more ask him if it was 'interesting' than you would ask a matador if he was 'interested' in bulls, a man in a crow's nest on a windjammer during a gale whether he was 'interested' in reefs, a ballet dancer at the apogee of his leap whether he is 'interested' in gravity, a whore checking the balance of her savings account whether she is 'interested' in men. It's a condition of our banality that we are so interested in things; that we assume that the idea of interest has any force. None of the most important events in our life is 'interesting'--birth, copulation, death. A man standing on the edge of the abyss has passed beyond interest in the void.

[Interest: John Lanchester, The Debt to Pleasure]

Posted by stronzo on 08.29.2012


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