Friday, May 16, 2008

Following the Wandering Virginia Woolf

I just reread “A Room of One’s Own” and marveled anew at the way it feels. I have a friend whose brilliant mind skips and skitters about just like Woolf depicts here, captures for us to admire. I never know where our conversations will jump to next, and that’s what reading this essay is like. But of course, having read it before, I never had that impatience that I sometimes get with my friend, imagining there isn’t really a destination. For both Woolf and my friend, there is. The tour around Robin Hood’s barn is the best route there. You accumulate the same moss on the initial ideas that the author/friend has accumulated, and rejoice with her at your joint arrival at the final destination. You carry along the same rejection at the Bodleian Library, the same admiration of threepenny press writers who put food on their tables when women were just beginning to write for money. As a scientist, I have a problem with discursive approaches to meaning. All of my training insists that the simplest path is the most elegant, the most desirable. But now that I’m getting to the age of sage-ing, I can admit it. The wandering way can be even better.