What is analysis anyway?

Right now, I am reading Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock by David Margolis, The Capture of the Earl of Glencrae by Stephanie Laurens, and The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal.  As I have time, I’ll post about these books and any others I pick up.  I am not certain that I will finish Charterhouse.  120 pages in, I still hate all the characters, and I don’t really care what happens to them.  I am reading Elizabeth and Hazel for a book club at work, and I am really enjoying it.  Glencrae is pure fun–not much to analyze about it, per se, but self-analysis is possible regardless of the quality of the stimulus–but fluffy books of its ilk give me blessed relief from my ever-churning thoughts.

There are a lot of very good book review blogs out there, but reviews aren’t precisely what I’m going for with this blog.  My starting perspective is that everything that we experience in our lives changes us in some often ineffable way so that, every day we have the opportunity to get to know ourselves, to incorporate these changes and figure out where they leave us.  I have this horror of waking up one morning, looking in the mirror, and seeing a stranger.  It is so easy to allow habit and mental laziness to work their magic on our lives, to slip into mental somnolence until we no longer know our own minds.  It is easy to hide things from ourselves, to fool ourselves into believing that we are better than we are.  I am absolutely terrified by the very real possibility that I could, one day, be a stranger to myself.  As I mentioned earlier, I’m quite neurotic!

Analysis, then, is my means of making sure that I never get away from myself.  And, since I spend an awful lot of time reading every day, a good deal of my analysis is directed at what I’m reading: what I think about it, how it changes or challenges my beliefs, how it might be changing me.  So this isn’t really a review blog, although I will doubtless give my opinion of what I’m reading.  What I am interested in is having a record of my thoughts and, if possible, entering into a dialogue with others about those thoughts so that I can move forward with the ones that make sense and have a certain universal (ish) applicability and reject those thoughts that don’t.

Abrupt subject change: I made a wonderful and dangerous discovery a few months ago at work: there is an automatic espresso machine on campus that doles out free custom-made cappuccinos (or lattes or americanos) all day long.  In addition to the three cups of brewed coffee that I had this morning, I have had three of those lovely cappuccinos, the last of them with an added shot.  It is wonderful to have no real limit on the amount of caffeine I consume, now that I am no longer pregnant or nursing.

It’s a dangerous business, going out your front door…

Usually, when I start a project, I want to have a clear idea of what it’s going to be.  In the present case, I don’t, but perhaps that lack of a preset expectation on my part will enable something organic, something creative, to occur.  I need a project to focus my mental energies and take some of those energies away from the neurotic meanderings of my mind, but I am yet unsure what sort of project will accomplish this goal without feeding further neurosis.  I will have to see what develops and whether I have the stick-to-it-ive-ness, as my sister would say, to keep it going.

My initial notion of this blog is based on a quote that was displayed prominently above the chalkboard in my eighth grade language arts class.

 “Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting.” – Edmund Burke.

Until today, I never knew it was a quote–my recollections from that class, now eighteen years past, are not perfect–but Google does not lie.  Mrs. Thomas, the teacher, had created a banner using stencils and colorful construction paper, and the quote certainly had pride of place at the front of the room.  I have always remembered the quote as “Reading without analyzing is like eating without digesting.”  Perhaps my substitution of “analyzing” for “reflecting” is indicative of my rather more active manner of thinking about anything that crosses my path.  When “reflecting,” one can recline in a leather wing chair and, with eyes unfocused, saunter along clearly set out mental pathways.  “Analyzing,” by contrast, conjures a certain twitchiness, a mental tangle that needs to be worked out.  One does not analyze in repose.  Or, at least, I do not.

Like many neurotics, I tend to analyze everything, including everything I read.  The trouble I run into is that I generally do not have anyone to talk to about the things that I read.  I don’t know anyone who has taste like mine, who has read what I’ve read and would be willing to talk about it.  All that analysis without an outlet leads to a whole lot of crazy–thoughts that never get out of my head, context that no one else can understand because they’ve never heard it.  Enter this blog!