Friday, March 25, 2011

Reading Bill Bryson's At Home: Chapters 6-7, The Fuse Box and The Drawing Room, PART II


With looming deadlines and other school factors at work, it’s taken me a bit to gather my thoughts about these two chapters of At Home. Nicole adeptly discussed the (unfufilled) potential of Bryson’s commentary on style. My one interesting connection with these chapters is that I read them by candlelight (lighting being the focus of Bryson’s “Fuse Box” chapter) after the power went out one evening. I’m not sure how many people keep candles around anymore, but I had a few stashed in a tin cup and I dutifully lit them up. Bryson is right; reading by candlelight requires you to get right up next to the candle. You can read in dim light, of course, but within a foot or so of a single candle the pages are crisp and clear. But there is also comfort what might seem an inconvenience. The light is soft, and the pages glow, rather than reflect white light as they might with electricity. When the power snapped suddenly back on an hour later, part of me was disappointed. Perhaps the convenience of electricity has caused us to forget a more primal comfort with the colors and functions of fire. If I could encourage you to do one thing this week, it would be to turn off your lights and sit down with a book in front of the glow of a candle for an hour. There is no better way to understand the past than by experiencing it.

(Scroll down or click here to read Nicole's entry on the same section.)

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