I’ve been watching the Walter Hooper interview the intolerable Metaxas did, not without some relief at the conclusion. I do it in case I miss something interesting on Lewis. One of the interesting things on Lewis I am glad that till now I’ve missed is his OHEL volume. It is full of his reflections on many things I’m now studying and it is enormous, not at all the kind of book you much contemplate re-reading. I don’t know when I’ll be done, but it is engrossing, though not quick.
It brings up an interesting point: how much of any author are you ready for when you first encounter him? Tolkien one is, because one reads and re-reads. He engages at the first and he holds your attention through repeated exposure, providing all the time more. Lots of stuff, however, done in high school is, it seems to me, wasted. Is it the time for drops of Shakespeare, Milton and Chaucer? You just end up thinking you know them and that they’re perhaps overrated. I did, however, go on to all three of them after high school, knowing they were insights to be had. On the other hand, you don’t know how much of it sticks with you. We think we remember and yet we do not remember well, and on the other hand we don’t tend to take into account that which we forget. I don’t mean that which we never retain, but that which we retain we are not always conscious of. I read Augustine’s Confessions at 19 and was ready for them in one way, though not ready for them in many others. I was surprised when I went back some years later at how much I thought they actually had shaped me, though, of course, one can be simply flattering oneself. I do think they predisposed me to several things, and there is something to be said for that. And here’s the interesting thing, I only read them because of having a high school teacher who encouraged me into such things, though not particularly Augustine whose Confessions I read as a random choice. It served to be introduced to serious things at all, and it also served that he thought they were things I’d find interesting. When I have a chance to teach, that’s how I like to go, assuming these things will be found interesting, and that that’s the main thing I can serve to accomplish. Not that I think we can account for the effect, but our unaccounted-for effect will be so much the better if the person introducing is interested in the object itself, and in the exposed subject’s interest.