Thursday, June 17, 2004

Followed a strange train of thought the other day...

I was at an exhibition of books at the standard place (Institute of Engineers), and there werent any of the "any book for 20 Rs." type racks. In fact I found there werent any fiction racks at all, everything was serious-type stuff.

There was a table marked 'Literature', though. This contained stuff intended for students of literature, like critical essays on Faulkner, Bashos haikus along with commentary, studies of William Blakes poetry, and so on. I mention these three books because I picked them up and considered buying them. The prices looked reasonable to me. Finally, I didnt buy them because there is already a huge queue of books sitting at home, including a detailed study of Tennyson, Henry Adams' famous autobiography, The complete poems of Plath, Dickinson, and cummings, the works of Borges...besides all the other stuff. Kismat mein hogi to yeh nayi books padhney ko phir chance milega....some other time.
A couple of tables away, were books on other topics. I skimmed over these, not much interesting. The History table caught my eye, I looked it over hoping for some books on central India, it might be helpful for that "Munh Nochwa" story I was working on. Didnt find anything useful.

The other shelves, Medicine, Electrical Engineering, Computers, Fashion, Architecture...I didnt pay any attention to any of them, and finally came out without buying anything.

Does anyone else see where this is heading? I noticed it as I walked down the stairs.

Every other programmer I know, all my classmates and several others, if you go through their library of books, you'll find 80% of the books are about software, languages, programming techniques, whatever. Some other books will be sci-fi types if he's got a literary bent, or pulp novels for timepass, if not. There'll be a couple of self-help books. and so on.

Now, me. I lump the computer section of any exhibition with FASHION and ARCHITECTURE. But I pore over critical studies of romantic poetry. I mention comparatively obscure writers in passing. I obsess over my library of 800+ books, and my life's aim for the past year or so hasnt been to read design patterns, it's been to read the top 100 list and be able to write like Nabokov. The only computer books I have are my college books, and K&R.

Discussions of what design pattern is cleaner make me uncomfortable. Deciding whether Hemingway's crisp, macho style is better than Fitzgerald's flowery one, can keep me up all night.
I think I'm in the wrong field :). I ought to have been doing a MA in literature, or something.

The closest parallel I can think of, is my friend George, who is a self-professed cinema freak, and who would probably spend more time at the Cinema table of any book exhibition than the computer section..but I'm guessing he wouldnt pass over the computer stuff as completely as I do.

Hoo boy... I feel like I've been walking with my head down for years, and only now am looking up and see where I've been heading.