Bookend

Sep. 18th, 2014 08:05 am
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
[personal profile] rebeccmeister
So now I'm reading Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. What that means is that I just finished a book about the lead-up to World War II, and now I'm reading a book that was a direct result of that war. The idea to read the book came from Rowdy Kittens a while back (although I seem to recall a specific post with more detailed discussion), stemming from the thought that perhaps there are other ways to think about life beyond hedonism or the pursuit of happiness. Which is a trifle amusing, because the author of Rowdy Kittens often writes under the guise of "happiness," even though I don't think her goal is strictly happiness per se. Anyway, tangent.

It's hard to set down a book about the Holocaust. It's hard to read any story about genocide, especially one so painfully and eloquently recounted by those who survived. It's clear that Frankl's every word has been carefully and painfully chosen as he seeks to recount the experiences in Auschwitz in a way that will allow him and others to derive something out of so much suffering and loss. I picked up the 1992 edition from the library, and found it especially interesting to read Frankl's introductory commentary about how he hadn't expected the book to be so popular, but how its popularity speaks to a shared deep and driving need to understand our existence here on this planet hurtling through space. So despite the difficulty of the subject matter, clearly many of us feel compelled to seek it out and learn from it.

I'm not sure what I'm going to read after this book.

I've gained a greater appreciation for history as I've gotten older. I think I just didn't understand it especially well back in high school. I wish we'd had more occasions where teachers had handed us a collection of primary documents and asked us to reconstruct a history around them. At the same time, I know that many of my history teachers did a perfectly wonderful job of exposing us to as many different facets of history as they could, under all the constraints at hand.
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