Thursday, February 28, 2013

In which I become a literary character

Partly because of all the news about standing versus sitting, and partly because now that I've gotten more exercise over the past few years, sitting too long makes me antsy, I've taken to setting up boxes  on the desk so I can stand and type. 

Then it occurred to me that I could do the same thing with reading. I've done this at home, where an ancient printer on a file cabinet is just about the right height to rest a book. Looking for a similar space in my office, I hit upon an empty space on my shelves. I put the book on there, sometimes leaning on an adjacent file cabinet for variety, and read. 

Then, the other day, I had the nagging feeling I had seen this before. I was, well, imitating someone. Standing facing the wall . . . apart from my fellow copyists in the hall outside . . . behind a door rather than behind a screen . . . 

Yes, friends, I thought I had become Bartleby, except that unlike him, I have not resolved to "do no more writing." 
The next day I noticed that Bartleby did nothing but stand at his window in his dead-wall revery. Upon asking him why he did not write, he said that he had decided upon doing no more writing. 
"Why, how now? what next?" exclaimed I, "do no more writing?" 
"No more." 
"And what is the reason?"
"Do you not see the reason for yourself," he indifferently replied.

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