What I want to focus on reading over the next few months are the books I own that I’m indecisive about wanting to read in full. If I read something unimpressive, I can donate or sell those books, and return to them years later. After I’ve downsized sufficiently, then I’ll return to more books like The Autobiography of Malcolm X [X] that will impress me. X meanders through important empathetic learning experiences in American History.
I’d rather write a book that attempts to be like X than one that’s meaningless.
I’ll never be as important of a figure as Malcolm X – I see him as someone that combated much of the overt racism that lasted up until death, where now racism is much more obscure, but still out there frequently – but that doesn’t mean I can’t take inspiration from his good points to inspire me. He was fearless in handling the opinions of others. When I think about how, perhaps, soft we are as a society that is unwilling to stand up for what we believe in – or worse, hiding behind ban buttons – then how can we truly progress when we’re too busy cowering in fear?
X shows that Malcolm X wasn’t all great – he committed crimes and had “bad takes.”
I would say, though, that these crimes and takes were more of circumstances of his situation than anything that might be substantial flaws. We all have negative parts of our personalities. I accept that he worked through some of his opinions on race live, learning as he went, to eventually arrive at the sort of perspective that tried to work toward true equality for humanity. It’s shameful that he was killed right at the apex of him changing into someone that otherwise might be seen as “just” angry.
This is why I say it’s valuable to learn from controversial figures.
I won’t advocate for studying the behaviors of people that are perhaps on the furthest edges of controversy and crime, so this is something I think can be taken too far, but I think it’s important to make opinions of my own whenever possible and to let my own inner morality guide me along the path of what I find acceptable. I think Malcolm X’s life and philosophies are acceptable, whereas had I not read X, I wouldn’t have been able to meander through thoughts on race to such an intimate degree to the point where I vicariously experienced how Malcolm X lived.
Seeing an opinion from someone else’s perspective is the truest form of refuting the central argument.
Part of that does take the uncomfortable step of taking off your own shoes, or your own biases, and attempting to empathize with someone else. That’s why I say that there are limits to doing this. If you already know someone’s shoes are disgusting, stepping in them might only somewhat help you grow. For someone like Malcolm X, stepping into his shoes can help inspire me through my own translation of his later-life equality perspectives, which can help those around me to better themselves and their community.
In that way, I want to include my “favorite” books on a short-list bookshelf.
I own too many books and many of them I’ll never care to read.
It’s easy to buy books for less than a dollar, but it’s harder to spend the nearly 14 hours, spread out over 68 days, at an average pace of 7.75 pages per day to read through a book like X. Not every book deserves that level of attention. That’s why what I’m going to be doing, going forward, is skimming through my backlog in two parts. For the books I know I’ll want to read, I’ll rebox them into a different part of the apartment-mansion so that they’re easier to move when I move out. Books like X would go into that part. Everything else, or books I’m uncertain about, I’ll spend 5 to 30 minutes reading over the next few months. If I read their first pages and find them to be unnoteworthy, then I’ll get rid of them.
I am a writer that is not a traditional student of literature.
I am a student of contemporary culture. I find more inspiration in writing through writing messages with people online, talking with people in-person, or otherwise participating in reality rather than attempting to appreciate all of the classics. I don’t respect much in life anymore. I wouldn’t quite call myself a nihilistic anarchist, but that’s a good starting point, because I don’t believe in much. I don’t respect people automatically because they have a certain job title, just as I don’t disrespect people automatically because of certain traits.
I would say respect is more complicated than just a one-and-done perspective.
This approach, like books, allows me to read books I dislike or talk with people I don’t respect without being overly abrasive. The boring books or people might have value, just as those who are controversial or aggressive, but it’s a matter of deciding how much it’s worth dealing with shitty books or people to get to possible nuggets of worthwhile information. How valuable is it, too, to have an opinion on every book or every person? I don’t care that much about anything, but I still think it’s interesting to meander through light and challenging perspectives.
I was uncomfortable thinking about racial matters before reading this book.
Now, I realize that I felt uncomfortable because I had never truly looked at racial perspectives outside of what is taught as morally right. My opinions, therefore, were not my own. They were the opinions instilled in me by society and the moralities of others – which I empathize with stronger now because the opinion is mine. I’ve vicariously experienced racial injustices for myself through reading X, thinking about its implications, and how much racism still exists within America in 2021 because not enough people challenge themselves to see why racism is unproductive.
Books exploring mild, “cold take” topics are worthless by comparison.
|Sources: My personal experiences.|
|Inspirations: This, I suppose, is a review of the book but from my perspective where I wrote about its impact on me. It sounds cheesy and superficial to say this approach to racism, but what I mean is that in school, the only forms of anti-racism were “love everyone” whereas this book’s anti-racism shows why racism is such a terrible concept.|
|Related: Other Media Meandry essays.|
|Photos: Two attempts at taking a good quality photo of where I keep books I want to keep most, I suppose, starting small with the ones that were most readily available of the books I have read that I didn’t put away.|
|Written On: 2021 June 04 [11:03pm to 11:33pm]|
|Last Edited: 2021 June 04 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|