Sunday, October 3, 2010

Mystery Dance

Day 237 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project, and Dorion Sagan has been reading Erewhon, by Samuel Butler, in search of a core text for an undergraduate liberal arts curriculum and in search of Butler's book-within-that-book, The Book of Machines.

Yes, I am still reading the current issue of The Common Review, and this is in his article "Samuel Butler's Willful Machines: The Lost Wisdom of Erewhon," but I started reading it without paying attention to the author.  I loved the funny, personal style, and then got overly excited when he mentioned--calling it "his nonclassic"--The Books in  My Life, by Henry Miller.  Apparently Miller made 3 lists: Books You've Read, Books You Will Read, and Books You Will Never Read, and, frankly, that sounds like fun, but, as you know by now, my brain is slightly scrunched origami.

Then the article mentioned philosophy, literary criticism, sheep farming in New Zealand (Butler's day job), and evolution, and I flipped back to find out who the author was.  Dorion Sagan! That guy who co-authored Mystery Dance: On the Evolution of Human Sexuality, with his mother, Lynn Margulis, my favorite cell biologist.  I loved that book!

Two things thrilled me about this article, in addition to all the things I learned:

1)  Dorion Sagan folds in all sorts of tidbits of knowledge, like blueberries into pancake batter, so his brain must be a) stained blue and/or b) origamic, like mine.

2)  Samuel Butler was funny and serious at the same time, also like me.

So I am deeply comforted, delighted, brain-scrunched, and eager to seek out Erewhon and The Books in My Life.  If I find the latter, you know I'm going to ask you, "What are some books you will never read?!"

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